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This Is For You South Africa – Desiree Ellis

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis has dedicated the historic win over Italy and progression to the knockout stages of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to South African fans.

Ellis says the fans back home deserved to celebrate for waking up early in the morning to watch the team after being left disappointed by the previous results in Group G especially the second game.

South Africa defeated Italy 3-2 in their final Group G encounter, having lost the first match 2-1 to Sweden and drawing 2-2 against Argentina.

Banyana came into the match needing a win to advance, while a point would’ve been enough for Italy. Argentina, meanwhile, needed a win against Sweden to have a minimal chance but they lost 2-0.

As a consequence, the African Champions eventually finished second with four points behind Sweden, who had all nine points from the Group, while Italy stayed on three and Argentina left the tournament with one.

After the match, Ellis was full of praise for her team, saying the victory was for the fans back home but also for all the coaches who have helped women’s football grow in the country.

“No one gave us a chance today but we knew what we were capable of and they fought like warriors out there,” Ellis stated.

“We said we wanted to keep our best players on the pitch and we managed that by not pressing all the time.

“But I think this is for everyone back home, you know people getting up in the early hours of the morning and they were all disappointed when we should have won against Argentina. This is for everyone. And I said I want them to go to work smiling in their cars because we know the game started at 9 am.

“This is for all the coaches out there in the league that have played their part. This is for the coaches that have come before. This is for everybody involved in women’s football because they have played their part, the players that have come before.”

The coach added that she warned people about Hildah Magaia’s impact in the game but also applauded her players, explaining their tactical switch worked wonders.

“I remember when we won the WAFCON Amanda Dlamini said to me it is personal and it is personal. This is for everyone who has put in the work but this is more so for the players who have really, really put the work in and have really worked so hard.

“Yesterday, I said to you about the ‘bread winner’ and the ‘bread winner’ came through today for us but we had warriors out there. I think that save from Kaylin [Swart] right at the end, it could have just put us out of the tournament but we never stopped fighting.

“We even changed the formation, we said let’s go three at the back and let’s just go. That’s how we got it because this team never gives up.”

Banyana will face the Netherlands for a place in the quarter-final on Sunday morning (04:00)

Lethabo Kganyago
Lethabo Kganyago
Lethabo Kganyago is currently working as a web and newspaper writer for iDiski Times. This award-winning sports journalist covers the Limpopo area and also specialises in coverage of women's football, including Banayana Banyana.