Ellis explains why team want Games qualifier at Loftus

Coach urges fans to come back Banyana

Neville Khoza Journalist
Desiree Ellis.
Desiree Ellis.
Image: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has revealed why they decided to host the second leg of their Olympic Games qualifier against Nigeria at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on April 9.

Banyana will meet Nigeria in the first leg on April 1 before they host them, and the winner of the tie will book a ticket to Paris for the Olympics in July.

Many thought Banyana should play the Super Falcons either at Peter Mokaba Stadium or Mbombela Stadium due to fears that Nigerians in Gauteng could outnumber Banyana fans.

But Ellis said they would take the advantage away from the team if they moved to other provinces.

“We looked at the altitude as well. We had to make sure we take advantage of that and hopefully that can help us, especially in the first 15 minutes or later in the game,” Ellis told the media during the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge in Johannesburg last Thursday.

“I remember we played in Johannesburg against Equatorial Guinea and we drew. But in the second half, they were struggling.

“We are hoping that it will be advantageous to us, but I think the first leg is going to be key. We need to get a positive result there to take the pressure off coming home.

“If we take it away from Johannesburg, we are taking away the advantage because a lot of the players play with a low altitude, so we have to get a better advantage.”

Ellis is also adamant that the Nigerians would not outnumber Banyana supporters at Loftus and urged the SA fans to come in numbers.

“We don't want the stadium to be filled with Nigerians, with due respect. We want the SA fans to be the 12th and 13th player,” she said.

“We urge the fans to come out in their numbers because it will be really important for us. It's going to be a game where we have to concentrate for 90 minutes, and fans should come in numbers because we play for them. It's out there that we play at Loftus at 7.30pm on April 9.”

Banyana are looking to qualify for the Olympics after missing out in Tokyo in the last Games. 

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