'Desiree Ellis has not improved Banyana': Portia Modise slams women's national team coach

21 May 2022 - 10:57
Portia Modise at the SAFA Presidential Campaign Press Conference at Nelson Mandela Foundation on May 10, 2022 in Johannesburg.
Image: Lefty Shivambu ED_379350 Portia Modise at the SAFA Presidential Campaign Press Conference at Nelson Mandela Foundation on May 10, 2022 in Johannesburg.

Outspoken former Banyana Banyana star Portia Modise has made shocking claims that current national coach Desiree Ellis hasn’t improved the side and is benefiting from the foundation that was laid by former coach Vera Pauw.

This despite Ellis having enjoyed a successful spell in charge of the senior women’s team side after Dutch-born coach Pauw resigned in 2016.

Ellis has led Banyana to their first ever Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance in France in 2019 after she guided them to a silver medal at the 2018 African Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon).

Ellis has another opportunity to lead SA to back-to-back World Cup appearances as her team will be participating in this year’s Awcon to be held in Morocco in July.

However, Modise says credit for Banyana’s success is being given to the wrong person.

“People might think that Desiree came and did a good job at Banyana, but the truth is that she has done nothing,” Modise told the media during the launch of her book titled “From Portia Modise With Love” on Thursday.

“I was part of that team and I know what Vera Pauw did in order for us to have those performances that helped us to qualify for the World Cup,” said the player who retired in 2015.

“If you check other African countries, that time when we qualified for the World Cup, they didn’t bring their powerful players because of some issues.

“This year it’s going to be difficult because Vera was the one who embarked on a mission to discover players such as Thembi Kgatlane at HPC (Safa girls academy).

“And how long was HPC there and our coaches couldn’t find players and they couldn’t even look at HPC. But Vera came and said, ‘I need to work hand in hand with the U19s, so I can find young players that could replace the structure when Portia and other players retire.’ That was not Desiree Ellis, but Vera Pauw.”

Modise, the only SA player to score more than 100 goals (101) international goals, has commended Pauw for being a coach who was able to stand her ground against SA Football Association (Safa) bosses when it comes to women’s football.

“The fights that Vera Pauw had at Safa House to make sure that she gets the preparation that she got with us in that team, I don’t think that Desiree Ellis will go in that house to fight all those people and tell them what she wants to prepare for her team,” Modise said.

“We qualified because of Vera Pauw, not Desiree Ellis. Vera Pauw dug deep and when she had to go on a red carpet, I’m sure she didn’t like what was happening in that house and she said ‘please let me leave’ and when Desiree Ellis walked on that path it was just a red carpet.

“The girls were already prepared that they want to win this. It was going to be their first time qualifying for a World Cup, with a coach or without a coach because Vera had already done the job a long time ago.”

Ellis’ success with Banyana saw her being named the Confederation of African Football Women's Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019.

Safa spokesperson Mninawa Ntloko said Ellis' record speaks for itself.

“Coach Desiree's successes are there for everyone to see. She has won back-to-back Caf women's coach of the year awards and led Banyana Banyana to their first ever World Cup tournament in 2019 among many milestones. It is disheartening to see a former player trying to disrespect another local former player in this manner.”  

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