Portia simply the best - Ellis
Banyana Banyana assistant coach Desiree Ellis does not understand how Portia Modise never won the African women's player of the year award.
Former Banyana captain Ellis played with Modise, who was a nominee for the Fifa world player of the year in 2005 and then named the best player at the 2006 African Women's Championship (AWC). She, however, did not win the continent's best player award, an accolade former teammate Noko Matlou won in 2008.
Modise called time on an extraordinary career this week and Banyana begin life without arguably the greatest women's player South Africa has produced when they face Gabon in a first-leg 2016 Rio Olympic qualifier in Libreville on Saturday.
"I met Portia when she was 13 or 14. I will never forget. We played in an inter-provincial tournament in PE [Port Elizabeth] and she played for the southern Gauteng second team," Ellis recalled. "The Western province team had a young defender who we thought would be the next best thing. Portia destroyed her. People think Portia is arrogant, but she believed in her ability . She is a legend."
Ellis went on: "She played overseas and was the best player at the AWC. To top it off, she scored [more than] 100 goals. How she did not win the African player of the year award baffles me. She should have won it. We have other players now who have to step up."
Banyana left for Gabon yesterday after a training session at University of Johannesburg. They will face a Gabon side they know nothing about.
"We don't know our opponents, but I think we are well prepared," Ellis said. "The experience we have in this team will hold us in good stead. But we won't go in there blindly.
"I am sure they have strong and speedy players. If we can pass the ball around quickly, then we shouldn't have a problem," she added.