Johannesburg - South Africa’s women national soccer team Banyana Banyana performed well and retained the Cosafa Women championship title when they defeated Cameroon 2-1 in Port Elizabeth on 22 September 2018. Our correspondent in South Africa COLLETA DEWA spoke to the team coach DESIREE ELLIS about the team’s victory and its prospects in the challenges ahead.
Let me begin by congratulating you for retaining the Cosafa Women’s championship! What can you say was the secret behind your success?
It is never been about me, it is a collective effort by everyone, players for their commitment and dedication and the staff (drivers, kit manager medical team, security, assistant coach, GK coach, analyst, fitness trainer etc. each and everyone plays a crucial role and not forgetting the TD (technical director) and other national team coaches, Sasol league coaches and players, Banyana coaches and players that have come before as each one has put in a block as part of foundation and most importantly the great support we get from our sponsor Sasol and SAFA (South African Football Association).
What can you say was the defining moment during the tournament?
We are a team that never gives up and will fight till the end and the unbelievable belief we have in each other and in God has brought us this far. We started slowly and improved with every game and that was key for us.
What do you think was the best tactic that led your girls to victory?
We were true to what we were doing in training and knew we needed to really up our performance in the final, as Cameroon looked stronger with every game. It was a very tough tactical game and we had to be very disciplined in all areas of our game.
Which other team do you think performed well during the tournament and why?
There were a number of teams, Uganda, Zambia and, of course, Cameroon.
Now that the team is preparing for the 2018 African Women's Championships to be held in Ghana in November as well as the Fifa Women's World Cup in France next year, what are your prospects?
It is going to be tough competition as each and every country will be preparing to make sure they get one of the three spots to go to the 2019 World Cup. We have shown, especially against Cameroon, that we are on the right track. But, make no mistake, they are a quality team and will come back fighting. So, we have to be even better prepared come November.
We understand you have already started preparing the team for the next level with friendly matches already lined up. Tell us more about these friendly matches.
We will be playing Chile in October and this presents a different challenge. They have already qualified for the World Cup and recently played two matches against the US. Playing different teams and more so away from home, on another continent, will really test the team in all areas. It’s all about getting ready for the 2018 Women’s AFCON in Ghana in November.
Your captain made history by attaining more than 150 caps, how do you feel about her performance?
It’s a big achievement to get 50 caps; an even bigger achievement to get 100 caps but 150 caps take a lot of commitment and dedication. She has been a fantastic role model to the younger players out there and has carried herself well. She been dedicated to training and always committed, and it is well deserved.
Do you think women football is being given enough attention the world over?
More can be done in print and television.
If you were given an opportunity to make changes of women football, what would you change?
More competitions for club teams in Africa as well as more international competitions for countries on the African continent. The Under-17 and Under-20 only have World Cup qualifying matches and senior football has regional tournaments like WAFU, CECAFA and COSAFA as well as Women’s AFCON.