Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis could not hide her excitement as South Africa qualified for the FIFA World Cup.
Ellis’ side edged Tunisia 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco on Thursday night. The win was not only enough for her team to reach the semifinals of the competition, but it also secured their spot in next year’s World Cup.
“I thought we started very well but then we stopped. We kept creating chances and as the game went on, the players felt pressure and we tried to calm them down. We made some team mistakes. We had so many chances that we could have just knocked in and we didn’t do that. They were so clear cut but at the end of the day, we showed a lot of character. But hey, we are going to the World Cup!,” said Ellis after the game.
“Now that we have qualified, the players will have no pressure because you know when you lose here, you have to go to the other route and you do not want to go to that route. Ultimately, we are now going to the World Cup. That pressure is now off their shoulders and now they can prepare for the next game,” she added.
It is now four out of four in the competition for the 2018 finalists who have progressed to the semifinals of the continental tournament and are in contention for their first ever WAFCON title.
“The squad we selected was versatile. Each one fights for one another. The technical staff is fantastic. Credit must go to all of them. This victory is for everyone back home.”
“The situation back home is not good. There is a lot of loadshedding and some of them might not have seen the game so this victory is for 53 million people out there. We received so many messages wishing us well on social media and on WhatsApp and phone calls etc so this one is for everyone out there – the coaches and players that have come before,” said an emotional Ellis.
South Africa will face Zambia in the semifinal on Monday.