29 November 2018 – Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, has conveyed her deepest gratitude to the South African Football Association (SAFA), in particular the President Dr Danny Jordaan, the Council as well as the Technical Committee for the support which led to the Senior Women’s National Team to make history by qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup scheduled for France in June.

She has also thanked sponsors Sasol and the whole of South Africa for being behind the team.

After many attempts to clinch the elusive spot, Ellis and her troops finally realised their dream on Tuesday, 27 November 2018 at the Cape Coast Stadium following a 2-0 nil over Mali.

With this victory, Ellis became the first ever coach to lead Banyana Banyana to a FIFA World Cup.

“My greatest gratitude goes to the South African Football Association, in particular the president – first for giving me this wonderful opportunity to lead this amazing team, and secondly for the unlimited support to me and the entire team to ensure we prepare adequately for this historic moment. I remember at the press conference when I was announced as a head coach permanently after serving as an assistant for some, I said to the country qualifying for the World Cup is non-negotiable – I believed at that time, and thankfully the Association also believed, hence the support,” said Ellis.

The Banyana Banyana coach said people were not aware of the amount of work and dedication the Association and in particular the President put in making sure all national teams are well looked after.

The former Banyana Banyana captain was also full of praise for the proud of sponsors of the team, Sasol, who have been there every step of the way.

“Where would women’s football be without the unwavering support from Sasol. When no company wanted to be involved in the female version of the game, they came in – and they did not just pump money but they also made sure they promoted the game as well. Today when people talk about Banyana Banyana and women’s football, Sasol is also in the mix,” added Ellis.

“With their involvement, not only did they allow girls to dream, but they also helped them achieve that dream with their limitless support and encouragement. On behalf of all the players, the coaches in the Sasol League, we are eternally grateful for the role you have played in paving the way for us to reach this historic milestone. It has been a long journey but it was worth it and we are glad we travelled it with you. Long may it continue.”

Ellis is also aware of the growing support her team has been getting over the years, and says it was one of the driving forces during the tournament in Ghana.

“Banyana Banyana has seen phenomenal growth in the last few years and we have become better in what we do because of the support of the nation. During this tournament, the millions of messages of support we have received and continue to receive have been pushing us to be the best we can. We are merely ambassadors representing our families, friends and the whole country in general. Women’s football, and in particular Banyana Banyana, is now trending because of your support. Keep it going and let’s make this a better place for the next generation of female footballers,” concluded Ellis.

Banyana Banyana will face Nigeria in the final of the 2018 Women’s AFCON on Saturday, 1 December.

The clash will take place at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana.

Kickoff is at 16h00 local time (18h00 SA Time).

The squad returns to South Africa on Sunday, 2 December and is expected to land at the OR Tambo International Airport at 17h35.