“The players were given programmes during the break. We always send out something for them to work on, and they have come back to a certain level,” says Banyana coach Desiree Ellis. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has kept the door open for players who can step up and deliver in order to be a part of the South African team at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France in June.

Ellis has been putting the national team through their paces ahead of the Cyprus Women’s Cup tournament, which kicks off in Larnaca on February 27.

Banyana have been drawn in Group A along with Finland, the Czech Republic and Korea DPR.

“The door for selection for the team for the World Cup is never closed, but the players in camp are stepping up and making it difficult for others to get in,” said Ellis, a former Banyana captain.

On the topic of fitness, Ellis said: “The players were given programmes during the break. We always send out something for them to work on, and they have come back to a certain level.

“At a tournament such as the one in Cyprus, there is little time between the games, so we need to manage our time.

“We need to work on areas such as ball retention, rotation of the ball, movement off of the ball, and our finishing needs to improve in leaps and bounds,” added the coach, who also expressed her admiration towards the attitude and enthusiasm shown by the players in training.

“It’s sinking in. We are a part of the 24 teams that will compete at the World Cup, but we have got to prepare really well to go out and make our mark and this is the next part of our journey,” continued Ellis.

“All we want is results, but improvement is key in terms of levels of fitness and performance. But we are taking it step by step, because where we want to peak is at the World Cup.”

In the 12-nation tournament in Cyprus, Banyana will open their campaign against Finland on February 27. The South Africans finished sixth at last year’s tournament.

African News Agency (ANA)