Ellis wants Banyana to be ‘at their best’ against Burkina Faso

Defending Wafcon champs are expected to beat Les Etalons

30 November 2023 - 07:22
By Neville Khoza
Banyana Banyana' Noko Matlou during training on Tuesday
Image: BANYANA TWITTER Banyana Banyana' Noko Matlou during training on Tuesday

Ahead of their Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) qualifier first leg against Burkina Faso at Charles Konan Banny Stadium, Ivory Coast, on Thursday (6pm), Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis said they have ticked all the boxes as they look to take advantage ahead of the return leg at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Monday.

The defending Wafcon champions are expected to beat Burkina Faso in the two-legged qualifier to book their place in the tournament in Morocco next year.

Burkina Faso will head into this match after beating Eswatini 6-2 on aggregate, while Banyana didn’t play.

“I can thankfully say, ‘I have a clean bill of health. Everybody participated in training and everyone has arrived’,” Ellis said.

“The overseas-based players arrived on Monday and we had a rest day because of the travelling. We have to manage a lot of players who have played 90 minutes over the last three weeks and we have to keep them fresh. Our first session went very well, just a little bit of loosening at the beginning and getting to feel the ball.

“Little bit of a tactical session towards the end because we only have two days and we did a little bit of possessional analysis and we can go into what we want to do.”

Ellis also wants Banyana to be at their best tonight as she knows the importance of winning the first leg away to go into the return leg without pressure.

“The enthusiasm is there and the willingness to want to do well is there like we always know. When you travel around the continent, there are a lot of challenges and I think a lot of our players are experienced enough to understand that and adapt quickly,” she said.

“But I’m very happy with the field, good conditions, so we had a good session.

“Before we left, we knew what was going to happen logistically and that’s why we stayed over, waiting for the overseas-based players to have a session and then travel.

“If we had travelled, we would not be ready for the session to fine-tune all the details. There are still few things that we want to work on.

“We tried to keep the sessions as short as possible to keep the players as fresh as possible for the game.”

Meanwhile, Janine van Wyk will be chasing a milestone where she will become the most capped African player should she play both matches.