Desiree Ellis urges fans to fill up Loftus for Banyana's crucial Olympic qualifier

Desiree Ellis urges fans to fill up Loftus for Banyana's crucial Olympic qualifier

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is urging football supporters to come out in numbers and fill up Loftus Stadium when they host Nigeria in the second leg of their final Olympic qualifier.

Banyana travels to Lagos to play Nigeria on 04 April and will return home for the second leg five days later.

With a lot at stake in this game, Ellis knows the importance of a decent crowd to rally behind the team.

"I think it's important, we had a good crowd at Mbombela but I think the crowd needs to come out. They're going to need to show their support because we're going to need that 12th and 13th player, we don't want the stadium filled with Nigerians with all due respect, we want the South African fans to be that 12th and 13th player,” Ellis said.

“You've seen it happen at COSAFA Cup, you've seen what it's done to the team and we urge the fans to come out in their numbers because it's going to be really, really important."

There have been concerns about the hosting of national teams’ matches in Gauteng especially in Johannesburg due to poor crowd attendance in both Banyana Bayana and Bafana Bafana matches.

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Ellis is hoping that football fans in Pretoria can prove to be different.

"We urge fans to come out in their numbers because we play for them, they're the ones that we play for. We meet people on the streets and everyone says we want to come and watch you, so it's out there that we're playing at Loftus, it's 19:30 on the 9th, we ask you, we say come out there, we want you to celebrate with us, we want to make sure that we do it for you because it's going to be that important that we have a packed-out stadium," the coach added.

Ellis, who has taken this team to two consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup and is also a reigning African champion has recalled how during their back-to-back COSAFA Cup title success in Gqeberha, the crowd was the main factor.

"When we've played at COSAFA Cups, with no disrespect it's lower but when we've played there and the team hasn't played well, the fans have lifted the team and I think that is going to be key but most importantly I think the first result away from home is the big one. We have to go there and get a positive result which will make the home trip, I won't say much easier but a lot less pressure because it's going to be a game where we're going to have to be concentrated for the full 90 minutes."