Ellis full of praise for her players and technical staff

Young players make history for Banyana

Desiree Ellis, coach of South African women's team Banyana Banyana, forecasts a brighter future for her team after its youngsters clinched the senior Cosafa championship.
Desiree Ellis, coach of South African women's team Banyana Banyana, forecasts a brighter future for her team after its youngsters clinched the senior Cosafa championship.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says being crowned Cosafa champions on Saturday was a moment her young players would never forget.

The national women’s soccer side clinched a historic fourth consecutive Cosafa Women’s Championship title by beating Botswana 2-1 in the final at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

Goals from Sibulele Holweni and Gabriela Salgado saw the largely inexperienced Banyana squad claim the seventh Cosafa Women’s Championship title and the fourth in a row for SA, which is a record.

The win also saw the SA women’s team finish the tournament unbeaten.

The squad was largely unfamiliar, with only six players returning from the squad who the 2019 Cosafa edition. The did not have Banyana's overseas-based big name players. However, the young players Ellis picked proved their worth and continued from where the senior players left off.

“I think, if I look back at all the Cosafas since 2017, we had 10 new players back then who got their first medals,” Ellis said. In 2018 we had new players who got their medals in 2019 and in 2020.

“I say to the players all the time ‘go out and make your mark. Go out and be remembered, go out and raise your hand’, and now we have a headache [with player selection] but we have a good headache because it has made our core group bigger.

“The celebrations for the players, I think it will go on and on because I think this is something  that you will never forget. I mean, this is an opportunity that you dream of, playing for the national team, and now you have not only played but you have a gold medal.

“I think if they really look back at what they have achieved, it’s a moment to remember. We had 25 days in our training camp to prepare after being out for seven months.

“I have to applaud the players, they are the key role players here.”

Ellis said her players had put in the work and they were pushed by the fitness trainer along with the technical team.

“We have really worked hard. The analyst was spot-on with all the games.

“We stuck to the game plan half and half  in the final but when we did move the ball around we created a lot of opportunities. The assistant coach was fantastic, I can mention each and every one from our support group because we are a team.”

Banyana speedster Hildah Magaia was named Player of the Tournament and Sibulele Holweni won the Golden Boot after scoring eight goals.

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