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Ellis thinks beyond Olympics, trying to put plan for 2027 World Cup

Banyana beat DRC 2-0 thanks to Kgatlana’s brace

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Lonathemba Mhlongo of South Africa with the ball during the CAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, 2nd Leg match between South Africa and DR Congo at Orlando Stadium , October 30 2023
Lonathemba Mhlongo of South Africa with the ball during the CAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, 2nd Leg match between South Africa and DR Congo at Orlando Stadium , October 30 2023
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

Banyana Banyana tactician Desiree Ellis is already thinking beyond the 2024 Olympics, trying to put a succession plan in place for the 2027 World Cup as well.

Banyana beat Democratic Republic of Congo 2-0 in the second leg of the Caf Olympics qualifiers second round at Orlando Stadium on Monday, thanks to Thembi Kgatlanas brace.

The away leg ended 1-1 in Kinshasa last week, where Kgatlana was also on target for SA.

Nicole Michaels assisted Kgatlana in all the three goals she scored against DRC over the two legs.

“Today [on Monday] I think they [the youngsters] matured and that gives us a big headache going forward because I also have a list of players I am looking at, not just locally but abroad as well,” Ellis said.

“We are not only looking at the Olympics but we are also looking at the 2027 World Cup. Whether I am here or I am not here, we are looking at all those things. We have to make sure that some of these youngsters get more game time before the Olympics.”

Ellis deployed a new backline, made up of players under the age of 22 in both legs against DRC. SA will meet the winners of the tie between Tanzania and Botswana in the third round of the qualifiers for the Games, to be in France's Paris from July to August next year.

“Today [on Monday] we had a very young squad on the field. The backline was made of players who are all under 22 [in Karabo Dhlamini, Lonathemba Mhlongo, Wendy Shongwe and Fikile Magama]. Nicole [Michael] and Noxolo [Cesane] are also very young, so we are slowly but surely blooding in the youngsters,” Ellis said.

“Nthabiseng [Majiya] is 19 unfortunately she's busy with her matric exams...the Shamase twins [Thubelihle and Siphumelele], 22, Sinoxolo [Noxolo’s twin sister], 22. Bongeka [Gamede] is still very young as well...there's Sibulele [Holweni], who’s still very young as well.”

Michael and Dhlamini are 22, meaning they are a year older than Mhlongo and Magama. Shongwe is 20.

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