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Desiree Ellis banks on overseas-based players’ quality in Buhari Cup

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis

FILE - Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis. Photo: Luigi Bennett

Published Sep 9, 2021


JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says she’s banking on the overseas-based players to “bring a lot of quality” in the Aisha Buhari Cup which is expected to get underway on September 15 in Nigeria.

It’s been some time since Banyana played competitive football, having hosted Zambia and Botswana in international friendlies in April, while they missed out on the Olympic Games last month. Their trip to the Netherlands in June was also cancelled.

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Banyana, though, will dust off their boots and return to action when they play in the 2021 Aisha Buhari Cup. The South Africans are in Group B in the tournament alongside Cameroon and Ghana, who are ranked second and fourth on the continent.

Only the top two teams from each group will progress to the semi-final. Ellis, though, is confident her team will be part of the semi-finalist, given the fact that she’s called a host of her overseas-based players due to the FIFA break.

Players such as Refiloe Jane (Italy), Linda Motlhalo (Sweden) and Janine Van Wyk (Scotland) will return to national duty after being away for almost two years, having last appeared for Banyana at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“You cannot go there and not want to win a game,” Ellis said at the team’s base in Fun Valley on Thursday. “We know that it’s going to be tough and we haven’t played for a while. But you look at winning the game and having improved performances.”

“Because it’s a step by step, you look at where you are compared to where other teams are. But when the time comes, you really need to take the step then you take the step up. I think the overseas-based players will bring a lot of quality. A lot of experience.”

This tournament will serve as preparations for Banyana who’ll also participate in the Cosafa Women’s Championship and Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) qualifiers later this year.

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