We live for pos­si­bil­i­ties

Soccer Laduma - - Make Your Point - De­siree El­lis, Banyana Banyana head coach

On Banyana’s progress in the Africa Women Cup of Na­tions

Well, the girls have re­ally out­done them­selves and they have been dis­ci­plined about the whole thing. They have been con­sis­tent in want­ing to win and that is what ev­ery coach wishes for. Reach­ing the semi-fi­nals with aplomb like we did was never easy and I think our prepa­ra­tions were spot-on. All the hard work that we did while pre­par­ing for this com­pe­ti­tion is now show­ing. We are reap­ing the re­wards of our hard work and I must say I am so proud of ev­ery­one in­volved with the team.

On Thembi Kgat­lana’s siz­zling form

Thembi has been fin­ish­ing well and has picked up her form at the right mo­ment. But, again, with us it is never about in­di­vid­u­als but rather the team. We are al­ways fo­cus­ing on the pos­i­tives for the team and if one player hap­pens to show the kind of form that Thembi has shown, then we ap­plaud her and en­cour­age her to do more. The girls are fight­ing for one an­other and the se­nior play­ers have been very in­flu­en­tial in terms of help­ing the young and new play­ers to set­tle in. Thembi is one of a kind and I can guar­an­tee you she will be sharper as she gets more games. I re­ally don’t want her to think that al­ready she is a star though. She has to keep her feet on the ground all the time. She’s a very tal­ented player with lots of pas­sion for the game. But, like I said, it’s all about the team for us. We are all about the team.

On les­sons learnt in the tour- na­ment

There are no easy games in these types of com­pe­ti­tions and the tour­na­ment has shown us that. I mean, look at how Mali have knocked out the hosts, Ghana – un­be­liev­able, but this is foot­ball. This re­ally goes to show that there are no easy games. You must never take your foot off the pedal and you have to al­ways ex­pect a tough bat­tle ir­re­spec­tive of who you come up against. Tour­na­ments like this one al­ways have a sur­prise pack­age and if you take your foot off the pedal, you are bound to suf­fer the con­se­quences. There’s al­ways pres­sure in tour­na­ments like this and, as a team, you al­ways have to be alert and be able to act ac­cord­ingly. There’s a lot of les­sons I and the tech­ni­cal team have learnt. We are hop­ing that all these les­sons will come in handy when we go to the World Cup.

On the morale and team spirit in camp

The morale and the team spirit is very high in the camp and the girls are fully fo­cused. We have seen the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing all the way to lift the tro­phy. We live for pos­si­bil­i­ties and we are slowly but surely mak­ing them re­al­i­ties. The good thing about the bunch of play­ers we have is that they are all will­ing to work hard for the team and are fight­ing for one an­other on the field of play. We have built this team around those morals and it has yielded re­sults for us. The ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers knows that this is their only chance to go to the World Cup, be­cause by the time the next World Cup comes, some of them might be re­tired al­ready and that has been a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor for them. They are help­ing the young­sters in the team a great deal.

On the over­all tour­na­ment

We started the tour­na­ment very well. I mean, beat­ing Nige­ria in our open­ing game gave us the boost and con­fi­dence we needed. It gave the girls self-be­lief that they can beat any­one as long as they fight for each other on the field of play. That win has pre­pared us for the en­tire tour­na­ment and it couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time.

On the next step

We have al­ready started with our next step, pre­par­ing for the World Cup be­cause we be­lieve that we are go­ing to the World Cup. Our plans and prepa­ra­tions for the next step, which is the FIFA World Cup, started when we be­gan prepa­ra­tions for the Africa Women Cup of Na­tions. We are well on course to achiev­ing what we wanted to achieve with this tour­na­ment and that has been what makes us happy as the tech­ni­cal team. We will have to sit down af­ter this tour­na­ment, have time to re­flect and see ar­eas that need more at­ten­tion in our game and the squad, but for now we want to be African cham­pi­ons. Our U17s, Bant­wana Bant­wana, have just come back from the U17 World Cup and the ex­pe­ri­ence they gained there will help us and maybe we can have a look at one or two play­ers from their team.

This week we hear from De­siree El­lis – Banyana Banyana head coach

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