13 June 2018– Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, says they owe it to the nation to qualify for the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France scheduled for 7 June to 7 July.
The South African Senior Women’s National Team has never qualified for the world soccer showpiece but Ellis says there is no way they will miss this opportunity.
Ellis was speaking to the media in Johannesburg following Banyana Banyana’s qualification to the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations which will be held in Ghana later this year (17 November to 1 December).
The South Africans qualified with a 7-0 aggregate win after winning the first leg 1-0 on Wednesday, 6 June at the Setsoto Stadium in Maseru, Lesotho, and completed the job at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein four days later with a 6-0 demolition of their neighbours (Sunday, 10 June). “I feel truly blessed and humbled, even though we have qualified before, this is new to me as the head coach of Banyana Banyana. It is a special moment for all of us – not just those who went to play against Lesotho but the bigger group. Here I am talking about the players who have come before and the coaches because this national team did not start yesterday,” said Ellis.
“I would also like to thank SAFA and our proud sponsor Sasol for their unwavering support – we could not have done this without them. We have a big task ahead of us, this is a new beginning and everyone needs to put in a little more effort. The ultimate is to qualify for the World Cup and we can only achieve that as a collective. The U17 Women’s National Team has set a benchmark for us, so it is not negotiable. We have to payback to everybody who has continuously supported us but I can assure you we are up for it and we will make the country proud come November.”
Headlining the event was SAFA acting President Ms Ria Ledwaba who appealed to all and sundry to support the women to grow this sport. She said it was important for Banyana Banyana to qualify for the world cup to boost the sport in general.
Also in attendance were Philasande Maveve, the Chief Director and Director for Women in the office of the Gauteng MEC for Sports and Nozipho Mbatha from Sasol.
The top five ranked women’s teams have all booked their place in Ghana.
Occupying the top spot is Nigeria (38th in the world), followed by Ghana (46th), Cameroon (48th), South Africa (54th) and Equatorial Guinea (55th).
Ranked 10th on the continent is Mali (82nd) while the only teams outside the top 10 are Zambia – 98th in the world and 13th on the continent. Algeria is not ranked as they have been inactive for more than 18 months.
The eight teams that have qualified for the 2018 edition, and with their appearances are:
– GHANA – AS HOSTS 12th APPEARANCE
– ALGERIA 5th
– CAMEROON 13th
– EQUATORIAL GUINEA 5th
– NIGERIA 13th
– MALI 7th
– SOUTH AFRICA 12th
– ZAMBIA 3rd
The 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations tournament also doubles as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – so the top three teams will qualify for France.
In 11 attempts, Banyana Banyana has never won the Women’s AFCON – they closest they have reached near the winner’s medal is being runners up on four occasions (1995, 2000, 2008, 2012).
They finished in third place in 2006 and 2010, and could only manage fourth place in 2002, 2014 and 2016.
Twice they have been knocked out in the group stages – 1998 and 2004.
So far they have played 46 matches, winning 21 of them with only five draws and 20 loses since 1995.
- Nigeria and Cameroon appeared in every tournament since inception in 1991 – 13 appearances each
- South Africa and Ghana are next on 12
- Nigeria has won a record 10 titles
- Equatorial Guinea has won the other two
- The eight teams will be drawn into two groups of four teams. The hosts will be seeded in Group A
- The top two in each group advance to the semi-finals
- Three top finishers qualify for the World Cup