Banyana Banyana coach pleased stars to get well earned break ahead after a gruelling few months
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Johannesburg - It’s been a great finish to the year for Banyana Banyana, and coach Desiree Ellis says they’ll continue with the hard work as the technical team prepares for the last round of Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) qualifiers next year.
After missing out on the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Banyana needed to bounce back stronger in other tournaments. They did that with aplomb, winning the inaugural Buhari Cup in Nigeria, where they beat Ghana and Nigeria in the process.
A week later when they began their Cosafa Women’s Championship defence, exhaustion engulfed them and they missed out on the trophy after finishing fourth in the tournament.
That was their first miss after four straight triumphs.
But Banyana, with the availability of their overseas-based players who had also made the trip to Nigeria for the Buhari Cup, returned to winning ways. They walloped Mozambique 13-0 on aggregate in the first round of the Awcon qualifiers.
They’ll face Algeria in the final round of the qualifiers with their sights set on booking their spot in the finals in Morocco next year.
Ellis said she was pleased that some of her charges would get time to refresh ahead of a tough year.
“The reason we made the changes in the first place was not because we wanted to disrespect Mozambique. Instead, it was to manage the fatigue. A lot of these players were in the Buhari Cup, Cosafa and qualifiers,” Ellis explained.
“We all know that it’s back to the Hollywoodbets League and Sasol League come weekends, so we’ll also try to manage fatigue.
“A lot of players will go back to their clubs. For some of them, their seasons in Europe are ending shortly. They can then get a bit of a break.
“But for us, unfortunately, there’ll be no break. We start looking forward to preparing for the next game.
“We also want to make sure the planning for early next year starts as soon as possible.”
In ensuring that they continue to integrate more young players into the squad, the 58-year-old Ellis gave goalkeeper Regirl Ngobeni her first full debut during her team’s 6-0 win over Mozambique at FNB Stadium on Tuesday.
Ngobeni was the second-choice goalkeeper to Kaylin Swart for the last three campaigns after first-choice goalkeeper Andile Dlamini couldn’t assemble for camp. Overall, Ellis was pleased with the former’s first game.
“It’s good to give someone her debut and a lot of players who get their debut are sometimes nervous. I thought, once or twice, she rushed it a bit. But other than that, she wasn’t tested. It’s a good debut when you get a clean sheet,” Ellis said.