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 on Thursday at Luveve Stadium (kick off 4.30pm), stated that the 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 time,” Ellis added. “Our focus is now set on our first game which is 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 announced unavailable for selection due to her club commitments with her US-based outfit she plays for. Ellis said Jane has been in fine form in training and expects of her to deliver a similar type of quality with her style of play and leadership skills, to help Banyana win this title.
“Refiloe has been a captain before, and though this is her first Cosafa tournament to ever feature in, 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 even 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.”
Hosts Zimbabwe will get their 2017 Cosafa Women’s Championship under way on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe are among the pre-tournament favourites as they seek to retain the title they won six years ago on home soil when the regional showpiece championship was first played and their coach, Sithethelelwe Sibanda, has largely gone for her tried and trusted selection.
“They have done well. Part of them, of course, they have done well in the past and part of them, you know, when it’s your first time really to come to the national set-up at times you are bound to lose some belief in yourself because you are just not used to the set-up,” she was quoted by The Herald.