Desiree Ellis promises Banyana Banyana will be back at 2027 Women’s World Cup ‘bigger and better’

Desiree Ellis is proud of what her Banyana Banyana team brought to the Women’s World Cup. Photo: Jose Breton / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

Desiree Ellis is proud of what her Banyana Banyana team brought to the Women’s World Cup. Photo: Jose Breton / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

Published Aug 8, 2023


Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis hopes her team have left a lasting impression at the Women’s World Cup following their historic journey in Australasia over the past few weeks.

The South Africa’s mesmeric run to the knockout stage was eventually halted by the Netherlands in the round of 16 on Sunday.

Ellis’ team recovered from a defeat in their first match against Sweden to earn a draw against Argentina, and then claim an all-important victory against Italy to book their place in the knockout rounds for the first time. Matches involving Banyana were never short of goals, special moments and drama, which in the process snatched the hearts of football supporters all over the world. The 60-year-old reflected on what has been a fascinating couple of weeks and also hoped that her team’s performance earned them the requisite respect.

“We want to be remembered as a team that lit up the World Cup, as so-called underdogs, an underdog team that plays good football but can also mix it up with the best out there,” Ellis said.

“We also want to be remembered for our singing because that’s who we are and that’s what unites us and keeps us together.

“When we walked around the stadium after the match (against the Netherlands) we could see how the people appreciated what we brought to the tournament, and I believe we will be back in four years bigger and better.”

Prior to this year’s edition of the World Cup, Banyana has only appeared once before at the global showpiece and were met with one of the harshest tutorials as they were sent packing at the group stage.

Banyana were humbled by Spain, edged by China and hammered by Germany in their three matches in 2019. They conceded eight goals and scored only one by Thembi Kgatlana.

This time Ellis and her charges raised their level as they took third in the world Sweden to their limits before going head to head with the Albiceleste and making history by edging Italy in their final match.

Kgatlana again was involved in all the six goals Banyana scored, while they also let in eight in their four outings. Ellis expressed her joy at seeing her team raise their level after picking up valuable experience at the last World Cup in France.

“In 2019 (in the team’s first World Cup appearance) we knew what to expect, but we also did not know what to expect until we got there,” she said. “It taught us a lesson on what we needed to do when we came back here, and I think we have shown what we learned (in 2019).

“Yes, there are a lot of things we could have done better but where we come from and where we play, our girls are not used to this intensity week in and week out.”