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Banyana coach Desiree Ellis doesn’t know why some players snubbed the media on their return to SA

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis during the 2023 FIFA Womens World Cup at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis during the 2023 FIFA Womens World Cup at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has no idea why some of the national team players snubbed local media on their return home after a historic Fifa Women’s World Cup. 

Banyana arrived in South Africa in separate batches over three days from Tuesday after their second World Cup appearance in Australia and New Zealand. 

Banyana made history at the tournament where they reached the last 16, becoming the first senior national side from the country to reach a World Cup knockout stage, leading to huge celebration here at home. 

However, there was massive disappointment when most of the players refused to speak to the media on their arrival. 

Only Hildah Magaia and veteran Noko Matlou entertained media requests for interviews when they landed at OR Tambo Airport International on Tuesday. 

Star player Thembi Kgatlane, who was part of the first batch to arrive, gave the media a cold shoulder.

Ellis and her technical team were the last ones to arrive on Friday and the coach addressed the media after she landed at OR Tambo.

“I don’t know the reasons why and I can’t answer because I don’t know why interviews were not done,” Ellis said. 

“The media plays an important role of course in profiling, players and important role in coverage (of women’s football) but I don’t know the reason why they were not done. So, I can’t give you an answer on that.” 

Before the players left for the World Cup, they were at loggerheads with Safa, boycotting a friendly clash against Botswana as they fought to have their bonuses confirmed. 

Agreement was reached between the parties, thanks to monetary donations by the Motsepe Foundation and National Lottery Commission. 

Ellis, who thanked all her back room staff for the support, emphasised the need for the country to professionalise the women’s game to boost South Africa’s chances in future tournaments.

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