Johannesburg - In appointing Desiree Ellis as Banyana Banyana head coach, the SA Football Association (Safa) has taken a giant leap of faith.
Now that she has been given the hot seat, Ellis has nowhere to run if things do not go well as she has to deliver on the three mandates given to her.
After acting in the position for almost 18 months, the former Banyana captain was this week given the go-ahead to lead the team. The promotion came with a long rope to hang herself – tough mandates.
Ellis has the daunting task of guiding the team to the year’s Women’s World Cup.
Although she declared her readiness for the task ahead, she might have shot herself in the foot by agreeing to mandates that all her predecessors failed to fulfil.
While qualifying for the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations is almost a given, it is the task of qualifying for France next year that will be hard to achieve.
Banyana have to finish in the top three in Ghana later this year to book a place at their maiden World Cup.
First, they have to go past Lesotho in the final qualifying round for the Ghana tournament.
The other mandate requires them to be number two on the continent.
Safa president Danny Jordaan revealed he wanted Banyana to be part of the 2020 Fifa Women’s League, which will consist of the top 16 countries in the world.
CAF will have two spots in the tournament, meaning Banyana will compete with Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria for a spot.
Banyana have always come up short against the west African countries, and Ellis must figure out how to overcome them.
She has also been mandated to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
“It was my dream to play for my country, which I did and went on to captain the team. It was again my dream to coach the team and it has now become a reality. If you can dream it, you can live it, and I will give it my best shot,” said Ellis.
She said she had gathered enough experience from her time as assistant to Vera Pauw and as the interim coach, and will use that experience to good effect.
Ellis believes she is ready to tackle the tough job.
“I raised my hand because I believed I could do the job and I never doubted myself.”
She is the only person to have won the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament as a player and as a coach.
Ellis has presided over 15 Cosafa matches and has won eight, lost five and drawn two.
Banyana have scored 27 times during those matches and conceded 15 goals.
Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble said the association would give Ellis all the necessary support to succeed.
“We will invest in her because she is one of our own. We believe in her, hence we gave her the job. She will go to Europe, Spain and Holland to work with some of the best coaches to improve herself,” said Mumble.
Ellis will lead Banyana in the Cyprus Women’s Cup as head coach.
She said she would use the tournament to prepare for the CAF qualifiers against Lesotho in June.
The new coach said she was under no illusions about her tenure being an easy one, but she declared herself ready to swim with the sharks.