Under-strength Banyana Banyana take on Eswatini with a semi spot on the line

Desiree Ellis is calling on her team to play to their strength’s against Eswatini. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Desiree Ellis is calling on her team to play to their strength’s against Eswatini. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Oct 10, 2023


Banyana Banyana are on a mission to secure passage to the knock-out rounds of the Cosafa Cup Women’s Championship.

Today, the South African senior national women’s team will play their final Group A clash against neighbours Eswantini at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto (kick-off 3.30pm); and only defeat will prevent them from reaching the semi-finals.

After their loss to Malawi in the opening round, Banyana will need another point to finish in second place behind the log leading Scorchers. South Africa defeated Madagascar 3-1 over the weekend in their second group clash.

The other remaining Group A match is between Madagascar and Malawi. It will be played at the same time today.

Banyana are campaigning with a rag-tag squad due to the fact that the Hollywoodbets Super League clubs would not release players for national team duty, with selectors forced to recruit their squad from the ranks of the lower-tier provincial women's leagues.

To add to their woes, coach Desiree Ellis did not have adequate time to prepare the squad fully because they assembled 48 hours before last Wednesday's opening clash. In their opening match, Banyana's untried team lost 4-3 to Malawi.

Although all of Malawi's goals were scored after basic errors, their winning margin could have been much bigger as they dominated the game but wasted many of the chances they created.

On Saturday, Banyana made light work of Madagascar and ran out comfortable winners after the score was tied 1-1 at half-time. They showed much improvement against Barea, especially in the second stanza, in windy and hot conditions at Dobsonville.

Now with two matches under their belts, this hastily assembled squad could produce another improved performances.

All that Ellis demands, is that they stop playing long-ball tactics.

"I told the players that because it is hot, move the ball around, but every ball we played were long balls (against Madagascar),” said Ellis.

“We are never going to compete and win those long balls.

"When we played Malawi, we started moving the ball around and that is how we gained control.

“That is our strength and unfortunately running with the ball against someone who is more physical was not going to work," she concluded.