JOHANNESBURG - Desiree Ellis never got to see the penalty which Lebohang Ramalepe converted to put Banyana Banyana through into this year’s Cosafa Women’s Championship final after beating Zambia 5-3 on penalties.
And that’s because her eyes where completely shut with her face facing up towards heaven.
At the back of her mind, the Banyana interim coach knew very well that it would be counted as a disgrace on her side not to have reached the final hurdle of the competition, given the standing Banyana hold in the Caf rankings.
In this Cosafa Women’s Championship, which ended this past Sunday in Bulawayo, South Africa were the top ranked side in the competition with their fifth place standing, while Zimbabwe, a side which made them work for their money on the final day of the competition, are ranked seven places below them.
Ellis, who is now one of a precious few former players to win a tournament both on the pitch and as a coach, said that it felt really great to have won her first gold medal from the sidelines, while also adding that she was still in the dark with regards to who Safa will appoint as the new Banyana coach leading up to next year’s Women’s Afcon qualifiers.
“It wasn’t easy in the beginning because a transition from assistant to being a head coach it’s a very tough one,” Ellis said. “I’ve made a few bad tactical decisions in one or two matches before but I grew from those experiences. And that’s just how football is. It is all part of the game. Coaching is about making a decision and learning from it (if it doesn’t work in your favour).
“And I can safely say now that I’ve grown as a coach and I now fully understand my players and a whole lot of things better now. I also like to blood in new players into the Banyana set up and I must say that this group have performed extremely well in this tournament.
"We’ve broaden our selection pool and that’s the other thing that makes me really happy,” Ellis added. “I don’t want to worry myself about other things now because what’s important we won this championship.”
But whether winning this championship title will work in her favour to convince her Safa bosses to reconsider giving her the Banyana coaching post instead of bringing in a new face from Europe, only time will tell.
However, Ellis has not been shy to admit before that she would gladly welcome the challenge of leading the national side as the official head coach, should she be given the coaching job.