Having helped the country to a maiden World Cup appearance, the 57-year-old coach is eyeing a maiden continental crown
Desiree Eliss says it will ‘take similar planning’ to make history and win the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations [Awcon] for South Africa.
With the cancellation of the 2020 Awcon due to the coronavirus outbreak, South Africa will now focus on challenging for the African crown as well as a 2023 World Cup ticket at the 2022 edition.
Having lost the 2018 African title on penalties to Nigeria, the coach who won back-to-back Caf Women’s Coach of the Year awards, is upbeat her side can replicate the fine run at the next continental outing.
“The experience of having played in so many finals most probably gave Nigeria the edge but we gave as good [an account] as we got before losing on penalties which is a lottery,” Ellis told Safa.net.
“I think the players were absolutely amazing in the way they went about the whole tournament where we finished unbeaten on the field of play.
“They were focused on the plan but their execution of the plan said it all and got us through to the final and we subsequently qualified for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
“We always speak about teamwork and you can’t forget the behind the scenes work done by the technical team, medical team and the rest of the support staff.
“We have to surpass that to qualify for the next Fifa Women’s World Cup in 2023. The next tournament has been increased from eight to 12 countries.
“The format will obviously change and that will make it even tougher, but it will take similar planning and focus to first qualify and then put in a better effort to win it in 2022 which by the way also doubles up as a 2023 World Cup qualifying tournament. So, yes we can definitely win it.”
No fewer than a dozen South African players have earned contracts abroad since the country’s maiden outing at the international level.
Nothando Vilakazi (EDF Logrono, Spain), Janine Van Wyk (Glasgow City FC, Scotland), Jermaine Seoposenwe (SC Braga, Portugal) and Amanda Mthandi (Badajoz, Spain), Rhoda Mulaudzi, Lebohang Ramalepe (FC Dinamo Minsk) and Thembi Kgatlana (Eibar, Spain) are among the few who have recently moved overseas.
Following the massive export of Banyana stars overseas, Ellis believes their experiences and exposure will improve their quality and title chances.
“This has just been incredible and beyond my wildest imagination. I am almost afraid to blink because when I wake up in the morning, there is another player signed up,” she continued.
“The players have been fantastic with their individual work behind the scenes and through their efforts are now taking the next step on their new journeys.
“The experiences they will now bring to Banyana Banyana will be immense and hopefully this will help raise the levels in the team to greater heights.
“I remember going to the 2016 Awcon in Cameroon and facing the likes of Nigeria who had about 80 percent of their squad playing abroad and you could see the experience in their teams during certain situations. We are now possibly in a position to also bring similar experiences to Banyana Banyana.”