Desiree Ellis named head coach of Banyana Banyana

Desiree Ellis has been appointed permanent head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana with immediate effect.

SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan made the announcement in Johannesburg on Thursday, 22 February 2018.

“We are glad to announce the appointment of Desiree (Ellis) as Banyana Banyana coach; she fully deserves the appointment as she has come through all the ranks of our national teams.

“Desiree has three tasks to achieve; qualify for AFCON 2018 in Ghana, qualify for FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. I am confident Banyana Banyana will be up to the task,” said Dr Jordaan.

Ellis took over on an interim basis soon after the Rio Olympic Games.

At the time, the former Banyana Banyana captain was the assistant to the Dutch-born Pauw.

“It is still sounds unreal; I honestly can’t believe it is really happening. It has always been a dream of mine to be the head coach of Banyana Banyana; nothing comes bigger than this. Being in the acting role since 2016 has probably prepared me for the most daunting task of them all in women’s football. I have always believed, and now it is a reality,” said Ellis.

“I will be failing in my duties if I did not thank the South African Football Association (SAFA) for entrusting me with this job, even in the acting capacity. This appointment can only mean we are doing something right in women’s football, and I hope it becomes a symbol to many girls and women out there that if you dream it, you can live it. I will do the best of my ability to make sure we continue on growing this beautiful game.”

Her first assignment as head coach will be the Cyprus Women’s Cup, a tournament she is very familiar with.

Banyana Banyana depart for Cyprus on Friday, 23 February and will play their first match on Wednesday, 28 February against Slovakia.

The other nations in Group C are Korea DPR and Hungary.

The 54-year-old Ellis is well aware what is at stake.

“Banyana Banyana has a very hectic 2018, and this Cyprus Cup could not have come at a better time. Because of the nature of the tournament, we are unable to win it but will instead use every opportunity to get ready for the upcoming AFCON qualifiers and the tournament proper – which also doubles up as a World Cup qualifier. But we are confident we will not disappoint as I believe we have a very solid team that will do the business,” added Ellis.

“I will also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey – all the players, the coaches, colleagues. I also need to make a special mention about Vera Pauw, from whom I have so learnt so much, as well as our proud sponsor Sasol, without whom we would not be here today. I believe with South Africa behind Banyana Banyana, 2018 is going to be a great year for all of us. We have a lot of work ahead, but I am confident we will get to our destination, which is qualifying for the World Cup in France.”

Ellis has been in charge of Banyana Banyana in 15 matches, starting with the friendly international clash against Egypt (22 October 2016), which ended with South Africa winning 3-1 at the Dobsonville Stadium.

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In total, she has won eight encounters, drew two and lost five. Her side has scored 27 goals and conceded 15 in the 12 away and three home matches.

Ellis is the only person to win the COSAFA Cup as both player and coach, and during her acting role, Banyana Banyana was voted the 2017 CAF African Women’s Team of the Year.

South Africa finished fourth at the CAF African Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 2017.