Desiree Ellis ready for ‘reasonable’ FIFA World Cup group

Desiree Ellis ready for ‘reasonable’ FIFA World Cup group

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has labelled their FIFA World Cup group alongside Sweden, Italy, and Argentina as reasonable.

The global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand is edging closer and this was highlighted by the trophy tour in South Africa last week, with Ellis also calling up a preliminary 31-member squad for the friendly against Serbia next month. 

"I would say it's reasonable. We've got Sweden who is now number 3, we've got Italy who's number 17, we've got Argentina who's number 29 but we could have had France and Brazil, we could have had USA and Netherlands so I'm saying it's reasonable. I'm not saying we don't respect the other teams," she said.

The coach is likely to blend youth and experience when she names her final squad for the World Cup but still has three more months to assess. 

Banyana’s opening game is against Sweden on 23 July. 

"I mean you look at Asanda (Hadebe), she's 19, Lonathemba (Mhlongo) is 20, Noxolo (Cesane) just turned 21 going to 22, Sibulele (Holweni) just early 20s, so we have a fantastic mix. Then we have experience and who's more experienced than Noko Matlou? She has shown playing abroad, she has shown that she still has the quality, so for me, it's never about age, it's always about what you can bring to the team," she added.

Ellis’ remarks also indicate that there could be some surprises to her squad of 23 players going to the tournament considering the approach she wants to take. 

"Experience has got to add value, if the experience doesn't add value anymore then it's just experience. Then we've got to make sure that we get that mix right. We got it right for Wafcon. I've said to the players that the World Cup is so many levels up, if you think the Wafcon was it then you are in for a rude awakening," she concluded.