Ellis opts for blend of youth and experience to face Senegal

Desiree Ellis will begin plotting Banyana Banyana’s future, starting with international friendlies against Senegal. | BackpagePix

Desiree Ellis will begin plotting Banyana Banyana’s future, starting with international friendlies against Senegal. | BackpagePix

Published May 29, 2024



Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says the management team is thinking of the future after naming a blend of senior players and youngsters for their next two friendlies away to Senegal.

Banyana will face Senegal at the Stade Lat Dior on Saturday (7pm kick-off) before the two nations return to the same venue for their second and last match on Tuesday at the same time. The Ellis-coached team will want to win both matches and revive themselves after failing to qualify for the coming Paris Olympics following their 1-0 loss on aggregate to Nigeria.


Senior players Bambanani Mbane, Kaylin Swart, Lebohang Ramalepe and Kholosa Biyana are in the fold, while overseas-based players such as Thembi Kgatlana and Jermaine Seoposenwe have been dropped. Thubelihle Shamase and Nonhlanhla Mthandi make their return to the team after impressing for Gintra Universitetas and Mamelodi Sundowns, respectively.

“I think the game is important,” said Ellis, during the team’s media open day at Benoni Northerns Club yesterday morning.

“We still have a nice mix of experience as well – with Bambanani (Mbane), Kaylin, Lebohang Ramalepe and Kholosa Biyana. We also have the young players as well. There are those that haven’t been with the squad and the newer ones, of course.

“There are those that are getting recalls and those that are coming back from injury. So, we wanted to have another look at them.

“We have to look at the way forward and make sure that we build a (strong) team going forward to be ready for the qualifiers for the Wafcon.”

Ellis’ decision to widen the pool allows her to also have options in case of eventualities.

During their last Women's Africa cup of Nations (Wafcon) qualifiers, Ellis was backed into a corner as she had a makeshift team at her disposal due to various issues such as players who were writing exams, injuries and those who had trouble securing visas.

“It will be an opportunity to give others a chance – the ones that don’t play regularly and the newer ones because it’s a start of the new cycle,” she said.

“We are getting ready for the Wafcon and the World Cup further down the line, so we must prepare players. In the October/November period, we had some challenges as a lot of players were missing due to various reasons.

“We’ve also not called up most of the senior players because we also wanted to look at others and test them.”

Senegal might seem an average team on paper, given that they are ranked 83rd in the world compared to the Wafcon champions who are 51st. But Ellis has argued that the Senegalese side will give them a real test.

“Senegal will be a very good test. They are a physical, good and organised team,” Ellis said. “It will also be a good test for the players and those that are coming back from injury.”