13 June 2018

South Africa: Ellis Full of Praise for Six-Goal Banyana

The Banyana Banyana national women's team coach Desiree Ellis waxed lyrical over her team after the girls ran riot against Lesotho in the second leg of the Caf Women's Nations Cup qualifier to win 7-0 on aggregate after scoring six unanswered goals on the day.

Banyana Banyana had won 1-0 in the first leg in Maseru last Wednesday.

Displaying one of the most swashbuckling shows ever by the senior national team, Banyana were in a class of their own against their neighbours who had no answers to the class, force and stamina of Ellis' girls.

And anyone would have expected the diminutive coach to sit back and savour the day's sumptuous events but Ellis said this team is capable of going one or two notches up if they keep their feet on the ground and continue working hard.

'We pride ourselves in putting in good performances and this was typical teamwork. We were disappointed with our performance in Lesotho, we knew we could do better and this is a way of saying thank you to fans, Safa, Sasol [the sponsors] and everyone who came to support us.

'Footballers are entertainers and I don't mean standing on top of the ball, I mean entertain and I think that is what this team did. We as a technical team are really proud,' said Ellis.

The coach said she had lots of options with a number of young players coming along in addition to some overseas-based senior players. Ellis said what impressed her most was that almost everyone on the day lived up to expectations and everyone wanted to prove a point and that resulted in a complete football match.

'We believe in teamwork and we don't want to be a team that relies on one or two individuals; we want when one player gets out or get injured, anyone who comes in should improve the team and I am glad everyone put her hand up. It is unfortunate that there is one player of the match but if that was left to me, all the girls on the pitch deserve the accolade.

'It was a good thank-you to Bloemfontein's fantastic fans; wherever we went, we were welcomed with open arms and the players, during their stay here this week, felt like rock stars. It was a nice thank-you. I know there are some people who might have been worried after we only won the first leg 1-0 but I knew what these girls are capable of.'

Ellis said the technical team had promised fans to do well in the second leg and the team's all-round performance was what she had asked for from her players.

She said something told her after their training on the day before the game that something great was in the offing from the girls. 'I told my assistant [Thinasonke Mbuli] that we looked good during the last training session and if the girls repeat that in the match, Lesotho would have no chance and that is exactly what happened - free-flowing football, skill, finishing and teamwork at its best.

'We need to take this type of showing to the Afcon. The upcoming Cosafa and a number of friendlies will help us prepare for the upcoming Afcon. I'm happy for qualifying for the continental tournament.

'The social messages we have been getting from fans across the country has really inspired the girls and once again to everyone, I want to say thank you,' concluded Ellis.

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