Ellis tips Banyana to emerge out of first round

‘You can’t go to World Cup aiming low’

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Banyana players during the Banyana Media Day on 28 June 2023 at UJ Auckland Park.
Banyana players during the Banyana Media Day on 28 June 2023 at UJ Auckland Park.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

While many feel Banyana Banyana dont have a realistic chance to progress to the knockout stages of the upcoming Fifa Womens World Cup, coach Desiree Ellis has reiterated her belief it is possible.

Banyana, who face neighbours Botswana in a farewell friendly at Tsakane Stadium on Sunday (3pm), are pitted against Sweden, Italy and Argentina in Group G of the global spectacle thatll be co-staged by New Zealand and Australia from July 20 to August 20. 

Banyana may be going into the World Cup as African champions but odds are stacked against them as all their group opponents are ranked above them in the world. Sweden are ranked third, fellow Europeans Italy 26th and Argentina are No 28. Banyana are ranked 54th, which puts them second in Africa behind No 40 ranked Nigeria.

But even so, Ellis still backs her troops to get out of the group stages.

I think if we go there just for the sake of it, were defeating the objective of going there. This team has matured over the last four years... players have gotten better, weve got a lot more experience and yes were in a tough group but so is everyone else, Ellis said during a media open-day at UJs Auckland Park campus yesterday.

If you go there being under ambitious, for the lack of a better word, you are already going there defeated. Its possible for us to get out of the group stages.

The Banyana mentor also confirmed Sassuolo midfielder Refiloe Jane will be the sole captain at the World Cup unlike in the past where the team had many captains. When Banyana won the Womens Africa  Cup of Nations in Morocco last year, they had three skippers in Janine van Wyk, Jane and Andile Dlamini.

Going into a big tournament like this, we decided to go with one captain. I think Refiloe has shown her quality... shes captained the team really well. Players respect her for who she is and what shes done. Shes the one that can lead, Ellis said.

Banyana will leave in two groups on Wednesday and Thursday next week. Theyll be based in New Zealands capital, Wellington.

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