19 October 2018 – Things just keep getting better and better for the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana.
The Desiree Ellis-led team has been nominated for the Team of the Year Award in the upcoming annual South African Sports Awards – they will be battling it out with the Rugby Sevens Team, as well as the Super Rugby side Lions.
Minister of Sport and Recreation, the Honourable Thokozile Xasa made the announcement this morning (Friday, 19 October 2018) in Johannesburg.
The reigning 2017 CAF Team of the Year has qualified for the Africa Women Cup of Nations that will take place in Ghana (17 November to 1 December).
“I think this is just amazing for Banyana Banyana and for women’s football in general. The nomination comes as a huge surprise, but we welcome it. We have had a fantastic year so far – qualifying for the 2018 AFCON and retaining the COSAFA Women’s Championship title is not mean feat, mind you, we are still the reigning 2017 CAF Women’s Team of the Year,” said Ellis.
“We are pitted against very strong and worthy candidates – the Rugby Sevens Team and the Lions Super 15 side – both did well in their respective disciplines, hence the nomination. But just being nominated is a great achievement on its own as it speaks volumes of the year Banyana Banyana has had. We are so blessed and grateful for the support of SAFA and our proud sponsor Sasol, not forgetting all the coaches and players in the Sasol League.”
While winning the award would mean a lot to Banyana Banyana, Ellis says the bigger picture however is the mission ahead.
The squad goes into camp on Sunday, 21 October to start preparations for AFCON, which will be used as the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier for the African zone – the top three nations will book their spots in France.
In Ghana, South Africa will be up against the hosts, Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia.
“We would love to win the award, without a shadow of doubt, but for us the focus is on task at hand. I have said this over and over again that we have never won the AFCON and we believe now is our time, failing which we must be one of the top three sides that will play in the World Cup in France – and the latter is not negotiable, we have to qualify for the World Cup,” added Ellis.
Already qualified for the World Cup are France (hosts), Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China Peoples Republic, England, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Norway, Scotland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the USA.
Since the start of the year, Banyana Banyana have played 14 matches – winning eight, drawing three and losing the other three (Sweden, Belgium, Chile).
The first game was against Sweden in January, followed by the Cyprus Women’s Cup in March, where they reached their highest finish in the tournament by ending 6thwith a loss to Belgium.
Next up was the 2018 AFCON qualifier against Lesotho in June, winning 1-0 away, and 6-1 at home to book their place in the 8-Nation tournament in Ghana.
In September, they continued where they left off by defending their COSAFA Women’s Championship title in Port Elizabeth – winning all their five matches with victories over Madagascar (2-1), Botswana (1-0), Malawi (6-0), Uganda (2-0) and Cameroon (2-1) in the final.
They scored 13 goals and conceded just two – one from the penalty spot.
Banyana Banyana have just recently returned from a tour of Chile, South America.
Despite losing 2-1 and drawing 2-2 against the host nation, they gave a good account of themselves as they were preparing for AFCON.
BANYANA BANYANA’S MATCHES IN 2018
|21 Jan 18||INT FRIENDLY||SWEDEN||HOME||0-3||LOSS|
|28 Feb 18||CYPRUS CUP||SLOVAKIA||AWAY||0-0||DRAW|
|02 Mar 18||CYPRUS CUP||HUNGARY||AWAY||1-0||WIN|
|05 Mar 18||CYPRUS CUP||KOREA DPR||AWAY||0-0||DRAW|
|07 Mar 18||CYPRUS CUP||BELGIUM||AWAY||2-1||LOSS|
|06 June 18||AFCON Q||LESOTHO||AWAY||1-0||WIN|
|10 June 18||AFCON Q||LESOTHO||HOME||6-0||WIN|
|12 Sep 18||COSAFA CUP||MADAGASCAR||HOME||2-1||WIN|
|14 Sep 18||COSAFA CUP||BOTSWANA||HOME||1-0||WIN|
|17 Sep 18||COSAFA CUP||MALAWI||HOME||6-0||WIN|
|20 Sep 18||COSAFA CUP||UGANDA||HOME||2-0||WIN|
|22 Sep 18||COSAFA CUP||CAMEROON||HOME||2-1||WIN|
|06 Oct 18||INT FRIENDLY||CHILE||AWAY||1-2||LOSS|
|09 Oct 18||INT FRIENDLY||CHILE||AWAY||2-2||DRAW|