Home Sport Desiree Ellis calls for new Banyana heroes to emerge at Wafcon

Desiree Ellis calls for new Banyana heroes to emerge at Wafcon

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Desiree Ellis’ camp has been rocked over the last few days with the loss of star forward Thembi Kgatlana to an Achilles injury while the squad also reported cases of Covid-19 infections ahead of their crunch match.

Banyana coach Desiree Ellis applauds on the sidelines
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis’ camp has been rocked over the last few days with the huge loss of star forward Thembi Kgatlana to an Achilles injury while the squad also reported cases of Covid-19 infections ahead of their crunch match against the Tunisians. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

Johannesburg – The South African women’s national team will tackle Tunisia in an Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) quarter-final match on Thursday.

Banyana now are just one win away from ensuring that they are one of the four African sides to qualify for the 2023 World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

Coach Desiree Ellis’ camp has been rocked over the last few days with the huge loss of star forward Thembi Kgatlana to an Achilles injury while the squad also reported cases of Covid-19 infections ahead of their crunch match against the Tunisians.

The 59-year-old Ellis revealed that she isn’t accepting any feelings of worry and anxiety within her camp, and in fact has called for new heroes to emerge from the players available as the competition reaches its climax.

“The players are friends with Thembi (Kgatlana) and the players that are closest to her have responded incredibly well, but we know why we are here. Losing Thembi was a huge blow but we also lost Gabby (Salgado) before the tournament even started and people stepped up,” she said.

“Other teams have also lost key players. Nigeria lost Assisat (Oshoala) and Botswana lost a player as well so this is just an opportunity for someone else to step in and contribute.”

Banyana concluded the group stages of this competition untouchable as they secured nine out of a possible nine points finishing as group winners with a morale-boosting victory over the Super Falcons of Nigeria.

Their triumph against Nigeria confirmed to a lot of people on the continent the worries that other nations might have harboured heading into the tournament, the need to beat Banyana to have a chance at lifting the trophy.

The last four nations at this year’s Wafcon showpiece will gain qualification to next year’s World Cup, the first of two goals coach Ellis wants to achieve with her team.

The Banyana women have displayed some of the best football on offer at the Wafcon and coach Ellis hopes they can utilise the momentum they’ve gathered so far in the tournament.

“We wanted to make sure that we retain that top position in the group because we’re looking to use that form and momentum heading into knockout rounds and we are going to use it to try and qualify for the World Cup.”

Banyana are expected to welcome midfield duo Refiloe Jane and Amogelang Motau after they were handed a rest last time out, while stalwart Noko Matlou is also expected to feature.

@ScribeSmiso

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