Refiloe Jane (left) with Banyana Banyana teammate Noko Matlou. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

BULAWAYO – Banyana Banyana interim coach Desiree Ellis is confident that her side can go all the way and challenge to win this year’s Cosafa Women’s Championship, despite having 10 new faces in her current squad.

Ellis, who was speaking after Banyana’s first training session in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe ahead of their first match of Group C against Lesotho this Thursday at Luveve Stadium (4.30pm kickoff), stated that a majority of her up-and-coming players showed hunger in training that they really wanted to win this championship.

Banyana are also pitted alongside Botswana and Namibia in their group, where they’ll be expected to do battle with them in pursuit of reaching the knockout stages of this competition.

“I told this group that they mustn’t put themselves under undue pressure now that they are selected to be in the senior national team,” Ellis said.

“I told them that they must just continue with whatever they were doing in their respective teams because that’s what got them here in the first place. It becomes very important for them to remember that.

“They must always remember to always push themselves to improve in whatever situation they might find themselves in on the field.

“Doing that will help up their game and confidence as every match they’ll get to participate in progresses.

“The intention is to take it one game at a time,” Ellis added. “Our focus is now set on our first game against Lesotho, in which we hope to come out as winners.”

Meanwhile, Banyana vice-captain Refiloe Jane is expected to lead the national side for the duration of the tournament after Janine van Wyk was unavailable for selection due to her club commitments with her USA-based outfit Houston Dash.

Ellis said Jane has been in fine form in training and expects her to deliver a similar type of quality with her style of play and leadership skills to help Banyana win the title.

“Refiloe has been a captain before, and though this is her first Cosafa tournament, we know that she can handle that pressure quite well,” Ellis said. 

“She’s just a born leader. That’s just how she is. She’s been that way ever since. Even when Van Wyk is around, you can’t help but notice that leadership spark she has on the field as well.

“This decision was a no-brainer for me because she has those qualities expected from any good leader. I truly believe that she will do well as well.”


IOL Sport