Banyana’s Ellis – It’s been a long time

‘About the time!’ seemed to be the main mood of Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis, who finally won her first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) title as a player or coach on Saturday against Morocco.

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Banyana were playing in their sixth WAFCON final and after five runners-up finishes, there was finally something left to celebrate as a brace from Hilda Magayi sealed a 2-1 win over the host nation at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat.

Ellis says the players were confident before facing the Lionesses of Atlas. Mentor Banyana said that she met with some of the senior players on the team and all they wanted was to win Wafcon.

“It was a long time ago. I got a silver medal when I was a player in 2009 when we lost to Nigeria. Many coaches and players have tried before, but today (Saturday) was special,” Ellis said.

“When we got out and I saw the crowd, it reminded me of 2015 when we went to Equatorial Guinea. Before we went to the stadium, we had a meeting, and… I just knew something special was going to happen. I think we played very well, I have already said that we keep the goals until the final. But the goals were special.

“When we met in South Africa, I sat with the older players. I asked…Jermaine (Seoposenwe) and she said my goal is to win the Wafcon, I shouldn’t worry about qualifying for the World Championship because they will qualify for the World Championship.”

Banyana already qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup when they beat Tunisia in the quarter-finals.

“So from the very beginning they had this ambition (to win the Wafcon), I said that we can only do this when we unite, we can only do this when we are together. We started very well, we lost Gabriela Salgado before we went to the camp, but the other players held out,” she added.

Banyana also lost to Thembi Kgatlana due to a serious injury in the quarterfinals, but Magaia stepped up when it mattered on Saturday.

She scored her first goal against Morocco in season 63.rd minutes, brilliantly staged by Jermain Seoposenwe, who had a fantastic tournament.

And Magaya was back in the game just eight minutes later, well placed to capitalize on a defensive error and beat the Moroccan goalkeeper, signifying Morocco’s Rosella Ayandé in the 80th minutes were only a consolation for the Atlas lionesses.