Desiree Ellis, head coach of the South Africa national senior women’s team has described their upcoming semi-final match against Mali as ‘the final before the final’ as they set their sight on qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in France.
According to the 55-year-old trainer, qualifying to the World Cup for the first time remains her side’s topmost priority as they intend to fight tooth and nail to come out victorious.
The Bayana Bayana have been phenomenal in the tournament beating holders Nigeria 1-0 in their opening game, won 7-1 against Equatorial Guinea before drawing 1-1 with Zambia yesterday in their last group game.
However, speaking at the post-match press conference, Desiree noted that they will not be carried away by their progress so far insisting they will not underrate the Malians, who succeeded in eliminating the host country, Ghana.
“The seminal is our final match because if we win that then automatically we achieve our dream of qualifying to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It’s important that we focus on the next game because the most important thing for us is that it’s like the final and if you win that game you go to the World Cup. That is how important that game is so it is a do or die and there is no other thing to do.”
We have to be at our extra best against Mali because they knocked out the host which is no mean feat. Ghana is a very good side so for Mali to have knocked them out shows that they are a quality side so we will not underestimate them,” she added.
When asked whether she was satisfied with her team’s performance so far, she said: "We are not there yet and still not satisfied because we have not reached our goal of qualifying to the FIFA Women’s World Cup so there is nothing to celebrate for now. Coming into the tournament we knew that we had five available games to play to get the trophy and we have successfully gone through with three.”
Touching on their game against Zambia the former footballer said: “It was a tough game for us despite the result. We did not play too well in this game and we have to go back to the drawing board to correct all those mistakes we made in the game.
Zambia team is a good one and they gave us a good game, one that helped us to notice some key areas that need to be looked at before we meet Mali on Tuesday.”