Ellis urges Banyana to throw caution to the wind

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis. | BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 9, 2024


Smiso Msomi

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis has roused her charges ahead of the second leg of their Olympic Games qualifier against Nigeria.

The South African women’s football team are looking to overturn a 1-0 first-leg result, beat the Super Falcons and seal a place at the 2024 Olympic Games in France starting in July.

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis. | BackpagePix

The two nations will meet at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria today at 7.30pm looking to join Zambia or Morocco who are competing for the other available African slot at the Olympics.

Banyana were unable to make it three wins on the bounce against Nigeria for the first time in history as a Rasheedat Ajibade penalty gave the Super Falcons the win and the advantage heading into the second leg.

The defending Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) champions have another opportunity to fight their way back into this encounter and avoid missing out on back-to-back Olympics after failing to qualify for the Japan edition in 2021.

Four-time CAF Women’s Coach of the Year Ellis said that she and her side have an unwavering desire to overturn the result and jet off to Paris. Banyana have scored five goals in their three games on South African soil in Olympic and Wafcon qualification.

Because of this record Ellis believes her team have it in them to claim the honours, despite coming up against a powerhouse of African women’s football.

“We all know it’s a big match and the winner over the two legs goes to the Olympics and we want to be on that plane, so for us it’s a game where we have to put everything in, there’s no second-guessing,” she said.

“We have shown we can score goals at home but we’re coming up against a formidable opponent who’s been there and done it all, but we have to throw caution to the wind.”

The Banyana technical team will have their work cut out for them trying to come up with a strategy to overcome a Super Falcons side boasting 20 overseas-based players. However, Ellis expressed that it was vital that her team kept the momentum they had built up in the second half of the first leg in Abuja.

“We always knew it was a two-legged match and we wanted a positive result in Nigeria but that didn’t happen, but I think we played better in the second half than we did in the first half so we can build on from that. We’re a ball-playing team and we created opportunities in Nigeria,” she explained.

“We always knew we were gonna have a short time to prepare for the second leg and that’s why we wanted a positive result in Nigeria but we’ve been in communication with the medical team to ensure that players are recovered because it’s gonna be a game (where) we will leave everything on the pitch.”