Ellis hails Banyana ‘grit’ as World Cup dream becomes reality

Desiree Ellis was relieved with a job well done as Banyana Banyana qualified for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup on Thursday night.

Banyana beat Tunisia 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) in Rabat, Morocco, to guarantee themselves one of the four African spots in Australia and New Zealand next year, alongside Nigeria, Morocco and Zambia.

Ellis’ side will play Zambia in the WAFCON semifinals on Monday, as they aim to lift the continental crown for the first time. They will probably, however, have to play better than they did against Tunisia, if they are to go all the way.

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“I thought we started really well, but we stopped playing, why? I don’t know,” said Ellis after the match.

“But we kept on encouraging them to play, we kept creating chances and as the game went on, I think they felt the pressure and we tried to calm them down. We made elementary mistakes, we had…I don’t know how many chances that could have just gone in and we didn’t take those chances.

“I would like to see the stats of those chances because they were so clear-cut and we didn’t take them. It was not a good performance, but we showed a lot of grit as well. I thought Fifi (Refiloe Jane) and Lebo (Ramalepe) really came through really good for us having not trained with us for a while, they gave us a lot. At the end, the tired legs counted against them, but we are going to the World Cup.”