Interim head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis has hailed a productive national team training camp that took place from Sunday, 28 and ended on Thursday, 1 June 2017.
The camp took place in Johannesburg where Ellis called up 24 players with the aim of putting together a strong squad that she will use when they start preparations for qualification to the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations.
The event will be held in Ghana and will serve as a qualifier for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will take place in France.
Ellis called up several new faces to have a closer look at them and was impressed with what she saw.
SAFA Media spoke to her after the end of the training camp.
Matlhomola Morake: End of camp, was the objective achieved?
Desiree Ellis: Everything went very well, a lot of players really raised their hands which makes the job of the technical team more difficult. I was highly impressed at how quickly they grasped some of the things we were working on. We had a few video sessions to show them exactly what we wanted. And for them to have grasped that much so easily was fantastic. Yes, it didn’t happen all the time but that it did happen was wonderful.
MM: Several new faces in the squad, what was the focus on?
DE: The focus was on showing them the formations that we are playing; for them to play in certain formations and for them to understand their roles in those positions so that when they go onto the pitch they understand it much more easier. It was also to give them an opportunity to play because we wanted to see what they can offer at this level; we wanted them to go away from here having learnt something.
MM: You called up three goalkeepers in your initial squad, but ended up with four goalkeepers?
DE: We brought in an extra goalkeeper Tshidi Moroa from Bluebirds FC because we are always on the lookout for keepers. She acquitted herself very well and the coaches were very impressed with her. She did not stay with us in camp but came in everyday, showing gratitude, huge interest and dedication to the call up. We also had to replace Chuene Morifi of Mamelodi Sundowns due to her work commitments and called up Noxolo Magudu of Free State University (Kovsies). Magudu was identified at the Sasol League Roadshow in Welkom that was attended by myself and some members of the Banyana Banyana technical team. We will keep monitoring these players because the best players should play for the national team.
MM: It’s clear you liked what you saw at the training camp….
DE:To be honest, it’s quite a few who can make the Banyana Banyana grade but it was a worthwile exercise considering we don’t have much activity for the national team this year. What impressed the most was that a lot of the defenders this time around were tall because normally we have a short group of players, so this training camp helped a lot. Also, a lot of players have strength, which was pleasing to see, and a lot of the passes and the combination play was a marvelous to watch. Like I said, for a short camp like that and for them to have grasped it so easily that is what is so amazing because it takes people a few months to be able to understand what is needed, and that has been awesome. So it was good seeing a couple of players raising their hands for future selection. This can only mean a lot of the experienced players in Banyana Banyana cannot rest on their laurels.
MM: What next for the technical team after what you have seen?
DE: Everybody that came here played their part – for us now is to spend some time watching the videos as to how they performed. We will go in-depth to see what we can do going forward. In the long run if players don’t make it back it doesn’t mean they are out of the system. Remember, we have seen what they can do at their clubs and sometimes when you come to a camp like this you become a bit anxious and not show your best, or make a wrong move then it derails your entire session. But some have been very impressive and seem to belong at this level.
MM: What was your advice to the players?
DE: They must just continue working hard because we will keep monitoring them. If you get a call back it means you are doing something right but if not, it’s not the end of the world. But it was a very productive few days with the squad and the good thing is that players realised the level is different from their clubs, they found out that there is a huge gap between the Sasol League and the national team, and for us it was just to show them what the national team is all about, and I think a lot of them will go back and work harder because that’s what it is all about.
MM: In terms of competition, what next?
DE: The COSAFA Cup is coming shortly in August, so I will sit with the technical team to see how we go about preparing for that tournament because we want the best players to represent Banyana Banyana and it’s also another way of building a solid squad towards the 2018 AFCON qualifiers. We would like to get a nice mix of experienced players and the ones who have just come in because you also want to take them to a different environment, especially outside the country, where the conditions are different – not just playing conditions but everything. Sometimes we know how difficult it is when we travel on the continent but at the end of the day mentally it will challenge them and that is where you actually see whether they are readay for this level.
Written by: SAFA Media