Thembi Kgatlana in action for Banyana against Namibia in the Cosafa Cup. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana in action for Banyana against Namibia in the Cosafa Cup. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis celebrates with her Cosafa Cup winners' medal. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis celebrates with her Cosafa Cup winners' medal. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Banyana Banyana star attacking midfielder Thembi Kgatlana insists that Safa should consider hiring Desiree Ellis for the vacant Banyana coaching post, instead of bringing in a new foreign face, to lead them to next year’s Women Afcon qualifiers.

Kgatlana’s reasoning was based on the opinion that it might be too late for the association to bring in a new coach, who’ll most certainly come with his/her own philosophy to instil into the players, leading up to next year’s Women’s Afcon qualifiers, which will take place from February 26 to April 10.

However, the only let-down on Ellis’ side - Desiree recently became the first South African to have won the Cosafa Women’s Championship as both player and coach - is that the Cape Town-born mentor failed to hit the ground running when she led Banyana in last year’s Women’s Afcon tournament, in Cameroon.

In that tournament, Banyana finished fourth, which sent a signal to her bosses at Safa that Ellis, like her former colleague Vera Pauw - who was sacked for failing to lead Banyana into the knockout stages of the Rio Olympic games - was not ready to lead Banyana to next year’s Ghana edition of the Afcon, where the top three finishers are guaranteed a spot at the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup, to be held in France.

Kgatlana, however, believes it’s about time the Association hired a local coach if they are to see the national side challenging to qualify for the World Cup.

“I truly believe that the association should give coach Desiree a chance to lead the national side on an official basis, because they’ve tried with a foreign coach before, and why not afford one of our locals the same chance as well?” Kgatlana, who scored twice against Burkina Faso in a friendly at the weekend, argued.

“She’s a South African, she understands how we play, unlike having somebody who would want to change us. Coach Ellis allows us the freedom to dare and take on our opponents in one-on-one situations, something which worked wonders for us in the Cosafa Championship, where we were crowned champions.

“So yes,” Kgatlana added. “I believe having a South African coach would see us do well going into next year’s Women’s Afcon qualifiers.”

Banyana kick off their campaign for Afcon 2018 against either Lesotho or Swazilan, in April next year.

Meanwhile, the Banyana interim coach stated that she hopes the national side will get another friendly before they close off the year, leading up to next year’s two international friendlies against Sweden on January 8th and 21st, both in Cape Town.

“There is another Fifa date that’s coming up and we are hoping to get another friendly and end this year on a good note by producing another winning result,” Ellis said.

“After that, we’ll start our preparations for the Swedish friendly, where I believe we’ll be playing against a much fitter side compared to us because their league would have been on by then.

"We intend to give our players programmes to work on during their off season, so that they’ll be much fitter when we welcome them back for the Swedish matches in the coming year.”

The Star

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