Banyana coach Desiree Ellis outlines plans for World Cup year

After wishing South Africans a prosperous new year during a media briefing on Wednesday, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis immediately got down to business, laying out the plans for her team in 2023.

Ellis is under no illusion that 2023 is indeed a very big year for Banyana. Her charges will take part in the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in July/August, and the former Banyana captain is already hitting the ground running.

After charming the African continent when they won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2022, Banyana got a rude awakening when they were brought back to earth during a 9-0 drubbing at the hands of Brazil in a two-match series at Orlando Stadium and Moses Mabhida.


Australia also exposed Banyana’s flaws when they beat South Africa’s women’s soccer team 4-1 in London. The defeats were a free soccer lesson for the South Africans, with the biggest lesson being the fact that it is going to be like walking into the cauldron at the World Cup.

But Ellis is being proactive, and she has a plan to stop the rot.

Together with the SA Football Association, Ellis is already beefing up the technical team. They are also preparing for camps and have lined up friendly matches to get the players on a level that will make South Africa and the rest of the continent proud during the World Cup.

“We did not have a lot of time out for holidays, we only got a little time to spend with family and to refresh. But I would like to wish our supporters and South Africans a happy new year,” said Ellis at Safa House in Nasrec.

“For us, this is a big year with the World Cup in July. Our first engagement is a pre-camp before the Cyprus Cup in which we will take part on 13-23 February.

“After that, the next Fifa date is 3-11 April and we are looking to play friendly matches against teams who play similar to our opponents at the World Cup. In between, we will be sending out the programmes to our players in order to keep them at a competitive level.


“In May, we are looking for a short camp for local-based players, as we know that the overseas-based players will be active with their clubs. Then the last Fifa date will only be in July before the tournament kicks off.

“At the beginning of July, we will start with our full-on preparations for the World Cup – firstly at home and also in New Zealand. We will have another friendly match in New Zealand as well. If you count all of these, we are looking at about six tough matches before our opening match at the World Cup,” she added.

South Africa have been drawn against Sweden, Italy and Argentina in Group G. The South Africans will be based in Wellington and will be housed at the Intercontinental Hotel. They will use Porirua Park as their training site.

Safa technical director Walter Steenbok said the association is in talks with Ellis to strengthen her technical team and background staff.

“The stakes are high and as part of the support, we will appoint a technical advisor and second assistant for Banyana. This is in consultation with the coach, and we will make an announcement later. This is all to bolster and beef up technical support for the team,” said Steenbok.

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