New Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis unfazed by her tough mandate

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis during the Banyana Banyana AFCON squad announcement at SAFA House on November 08, 2016 in Johannesburg.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis during the Banyana Banyana AFCON squad announcement at SAFA House on November 08, 2016 in Johannesburg.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

New Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has her work cut out for her if the tough mandate handed to her by South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan on Thursday is anything to go by.

Ellis was named as new Banyana coach on Thursday and Jordaan said she would be required to qualify for the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana in December‚ the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

‘‘So there are three targets — it’s the Africa Cup of Nations‚ the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and the Olympics in 2020‚” Jordaan said.

Ellis will also be required to ensure that Banyana remains in the top two on the continent as Fifa is about to launch a prestigious tournament that will feature the 16 best women’s national teams in the world.

‘‘More important we want Banyana to be in the top two on the African continent because in 2020‚ as we have indicated‚ Fifa is launching a women’s world league were the 16 top countries in the world — Brazil‚ Argentina‚ France‚ Korea and others — will play in that 16-team world league‚” Jordaan said.

‘‘There will be two teams from Africa‚ the two top teams from Africa....... as things stand now those two top teams would be Nigeria and Ghana.

‘‘This means we have to beat Nigeria and Ghana to get one of those two slots. This means we have to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana in December.

‘‘To support that‚ we will launch the national league for women’s football in 2019 so that we can create a platform for Desiree to see and select the players that can lead us on this path.”

Ellis said she was not daunted by the task she is facing after serving as interim coach since 2016 following Dutchwoman Vera Pauw’s departure. She had also served as Pauw's assistant prior to her appointment as caretaker coach.

‘‘I know that in 2018 we have a huge task‚” Ellis said.

‘‘First of all we have to qualify for Afcon. We have been through the pain in 2014 of being so close to the World Cup.

‘‘As the president (Jordaan) said‚ we all know that this is our destination to get there.

‘‘The Cyprus Women’s Cup is coming up (26 February to 7 March) but unfortunately due to the format we cannot win that tournament.

‘‘But we will use all of that to prepare the best that we can for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the main tournament itself.”

All three women’s national teams are now coached by former Banyana players — Ellis‚ SA under-17 coach Simphiwe Dludlu and SA under-20 coach Maud Khumalo — and Jordaan said this was an important step for the local game.

‘‘All of our national teams now have women coaches and all of them were Banyana players and they graduated from being players to coaching our national teams‚” he said.

‘‘When we started‚ all our women’s national teams were coached by men and it was a huge argument.

‘‘Understandably so that women coaches did not have the opportunity to coach because there were no women’s football structures at a competitive level.

‘‘We still do not have a national league‚ so there were no women coaches there.

‘‘So we had to take the unusual step of appointing women coaches to national teams when they actually never coached a team before.

‘‘I think we may be one of the only federations in the world that has taken that step because you graduate from club to more senior levels as a coach and finally you become a national team coach. We did not have that path.

‘‘So what we have to do is to make sure that the necessary technical support is there across our teams to support our women coach in under-17‚ under-20‚ and soon the Olympic qualification‚ which will be Desiree’s responsibility and Banyana Banyana.”

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.