May 16, 2021

‘It’s always tough’ – Banyana Banyana coach Ellis expects difficult match against Zambia

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The South Africans have enjoyed dominance over their Cosafa rivals but the manager is still worried about the threat the visitors can pose

Desiree Ellis is aware of the tough test the South Africa women’s team has awaiting them on Saturday in Johannesburg against Zambia.

Banyana Banyana welcome Zambia to the Bidvest Stadium in their first April international friendly. After the Tokyo-bound Copper Queens, South Africa then face Botswana on Tuesday.

Ellis’ side has not lost to the Copper Queens since 2012, winning four times and drawing twice and are eager to extend their fine run over their Cosafa rivals in the seventh meeting in all competitions.

The tactician is expecting a difficult match in Milpark but is confident Banyana can start their preparation for the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations on a high since the Cosafa triumph last November.

“It’s been a long time since the Cosafa Cup but it’s great to be back on the field doing what we love,” Ellis told Goal.

“We have lost a whole year of football and these friendlies are the beginning of the process to prepare for the 2022 Awcon qualifiers. 

“We want to make sure that when the qualifiers take place that we are very close to where we were when we played at the World Cup.

“It’s always tough when you play Zambia. Zambia are maybe farther ahead in the preparations as they will compete at the Olympics.”

On Tuesday, Spanish side Eibar duo Thembi Kgatlana and Noko Matlou returned to the Banyana fold for the first time since they last featured against Japan in a friendly in November 2019. 

On having the Spain-based duo back in her side, Ellis shared her excitement and further stressed the importance of the foreign pros.

“We are really excited to have Thembi, Noko and Amanda and, unfortunately, the others were not available,” she continued.

“You can see the professionalism shining and they have definitely raised the level. I go back to the 2016 Awcon when we played Cameroon and Nigeria. 

“You could see how the foreign-based players raised the level of their teams. We are hoping for similar experiences.”