Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Ellis unsure about another Banyana Olympic bid

'I can't give you an answer that far ahead right now,' she said on whether she would be there in the bid to get to LA28.

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis said she isn’t sure if she will attempt to lead the national team to another Olympic Games, after they missed out on a place in Paris 2024, losing 1-0 to Nigeria on aggregate in their final qualifier.

Banyana, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, were unable to find a route to goal on Tuesday in the second leg at Loftus Stadium, meaning they have missed out on two Olympic Games in a row since Ellis took over as head coach.

Under Ellis, Banyana have won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) for the first time, and were the first South African senior side, male or female, to reach the knockout rounds of a Fifa World Cup when they did so in France last year.

The Olympics, however, have remained elusive. Banyana’s next chance of playing there will come in the qualifiers for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“It is always about the team first and as a group it is one thing we haven’t done (qualified for an Olympics),” said Ellis.

“I can’t give you an answer that far ahead right now,” she added, on whether she would be there in the bid to get to LA28.

‘There are a lot of Fifa dates’

When pressed on that statement, however, Ellis said any uncertainty was more about the amount of games left for Banyana to play before the next Olympic qualifiers.

“The reason I said I am not thinking too far ahead is because there are a lot of Fifa dates,” said Ellis.

“Hopefully there will be a WAFCON (in 2025), we would like to defend it.”

At the moment, the Confederation of African Football has no dates in their international calendar set aside for the WAFCON, even though it is supposed to be hosted this year in Morocco.

“We (also) have to get regular camps, and regular good opposition, that is the only way to test yourselves,” added Ellis.

“With respect to other teams on the continent, Nigeria are number one in Africa and we are number two. In the Women’s Cosafa Cup, we must make sure we take a team that can get experience so that when we bring players in, they add value.

“We must make sure we get many games, and test players, so they are ready for the next tournament, probably the WAFCON. If it is not this year then in 2026 it will double up as World Cup qualifying.

“We must make sure players get experience, then play in the group games at the WAFCON, then the quarterfinals (in a World Cup qualifying year) are like World Cup qualifiers. We must make sure …. we get the mix right, so we have cover in all positions.”