11 August 2023 – Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and members of her support staff returned home to a vociferous welcome at OR Tambo International Airport on Friday (11 August 2023) after a historic FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.

The Sasol-sponsored side wrote their name into the history books after becoming the first ever South African national team, men or women, to make it out of the group stages of a FIFA tournament. Their journey in the tournament co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand came to an end in the 0-2 defeat to the Netherlands in the Round of 16.

“You know, when we went to the World Cup in 2019, we knew what to expect, but we also didn’t know what to expect until we got there,” she said. “We did not do as well as we thought we could do, because we scored one goal and no points. This time around (we did better).”

Ellis said her charges played well to get out of a group that had Sweden, Argentina and Italy.

“We were in a tough group, but a reasonable group. I thought we played really well over the games and maybe we could have got a result against Sweden, (it ended with the Swedes winning 2-1), and also we could have got a result against Argentina (it ended 2-2). But the players stood up against Italy (Banyana Banyana won 3-2).

Ellis acknowledged the work of the many men and women who supported her behind the scenes.