Banyana Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis is excited about the players’ approach to the 10th edition of the CAF African Women’s Cup of Nations.
After roughly 24 hours of travel, Banyana were in high spirits when they touched down in Yaoundé, Cameroon on Wednesday afternoon just a few days before the start of the tournament.
The squad was in transit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before continuing on their journey to Cameroon via Libreville in Gabon.
‘Travelling on our continent has never been an easy task, but there is no way around it. There are countries that are easy to travel to and others not as much. We are happy to have finally settled in and will continue our preparations for the tournament,’ said Ellis.
‘Ten years ago things were so different and women were viewed as abnormal to be playing football but times have changed. It is wonderful to see the interest people have in us as a team. We are very touched by the love and support we received from people beyond our borders, and would really like to thank Ethiopian Airways for the surprise they had for us on our flight from South Africa.’
With the travel out of the way, Banyana Banyana are now eager to get going in the tournament.
‘We had a really long trip but the time helped to build the team spirit. We have already been to the training site, just to give the players a feel of the atmosphere. Although they wanted to have a full session, we could not allow it as we have a lot of work to still get through before our opening match,’ added Ellis.
The former Banyana Banyana captain lauded the input from technical adviser Molefi Ntseki, who is also the head coach of the South African men’s U17 national team.
‘He is one of us, he is just mind-blowing to work with and some of the advice he has already given has changed the views we have of West Africa. Obviously, temperatures are much higher here than back home, but coach Ntseki has given us tips on how to approach these harsh conditions,’ said Ellis.
Banyana Banyana’s campaign will kick off on Saturday, when they face Zimbabwe at 07:30 SA time. The second fixture will be against the hosts next Tuesday (17:00). Both matches are at Stade Yaounde.
The South Africans will then travel to Limbe for their last Group A clash with Egypt on Friday, 25 November.