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Desiree Ellis knew it would be 'third time lucky' for Banyana as they triumph at Women's Africa Cup of Nations

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis.
Image: Alex Grimm

In Rabat

Having personally failed to win the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) title twice before Saturday's historic success, Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says she was always confident of the third time's charm.

Hildah Magaia's brace propelled Banyana to a 2-1 win over the hosts Morocco at a packed-to-the-rafters Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Saturday night. The Limpopo-born Magaia struck her first goal in the 63rd minute, before completing her brace in the 71st minute. Tottenham Hotspurs' star Rosella Ayane scored what would end up as a mere consolation for Morocco in the 80th minute.

Ellis was in charge when Banyana lost to Nigeria in the 2018 edition. As a player, the Banyana mentor captained the senior women's national side when they finished as Wafcon runners-up as the hosts in 2000, with Nigeria coming out on top. Ellis asserted she always knew this was finally her time to enjoy Wafcon glory.

"I tried as a player to win the gold...in 2000 we lost to Nigeria. When I looked at something [referring to reports from some local media] it said that Morocco were the favourites, which was okay. It said that in two times that Nigeria were not in the final, Equatorial Guinea were the hosts [and beat Banyana] and I said 'third time lucky brother', it [that Morocco beat them] is not going to happen here...this [the trophy] is ours,'' said Ellis.

The 59-year-old Banyana tactician said her charges were as optimistic as she was, and she was a bit worried that euphoria would set in at times. 

"When I looked at the players at team meetings, I almost didn't want to do team meetings anymore because the players were so, so confident. They always came in singing, dancing  with their big speaker. They were so confident and determined even when we lost Thembi [Kgatlana, who left the tournament prematurely due to a ruptured achilles tendon],'' said Ellis.

• Ndebele is in Morocco as a guest of Sasol, Banyana's sponsor

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