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Ellis on winning award: I wanted to jump and scream

It’s been a remarkable two years for Banyana Banyana under the guidance of Ellis. Despite finishing as runners-up at the African Cup of Nations, the team achieved their goal of qualifying for their maiden World Cup.

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis, seen here with her team and other staff members on 10 January, won CAF Coach of the Year Award. Picture: @Banyana_Banyana/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis returned home after her victorious visit to Dakar, Senegal, after receiving her CAF Coach of the Year Award at the CAF Awards on Tuesday.

It’s been a remarkable two years for Banyana Banyana under the guidance of Ellis. Despite finishing as runners-up at the African Cup of Nations, the team achieved their goal of qualifying for their maiden World Cup.

Upon returning to South Africa, Ellis shared her feelings after realising she won the award.

"When my name got called out, I wanted to jump and scream. I had this huge smile on my face and then just sitting there, I was thinking this is unbelievable."

The coach said someone close to her had predicted her success on her way to Dakar.

"A friend of mine who works for SAA actually said to me before I left that I was going to win the award. I said to him I'm up against tough opposition, the Nigerian coach wonder tournament."

Ellis, always humble and thinking about the collective, praised her support staff.

“I have to salute my technical team, you know, this is not just for me. I have a fantastic assistant coach Thinasonke Mbuli and Shilene Booysen (analyst). We work closely together, strategising.”

“I'm going to training now but they're already busy getting the training ready. We have a fantastic support staff and the players are magnificent. This is all for them.”

The former Banyana international was interim coach of the side for some time before she was given the job on a permanent basis. Since that moment, she has not looked back and has taken the team to new territory.

“Banyana just didn't happen overnight. So, this is for everybody that's played a part in Banyana, even qualifying for the World Cup... it’s for the whole country.”

With the World Cup next year, Banyana have already commenced their preparation with a training camp in Cape Town.

She spoke about her players who have made sacrifices over the festive season to do more than just make up the numbers at next year’s World Cup in France.

“The players have been fantastic, when everybody was on holiday they've been training they only got Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Other than that, they've been training, they know what's at stake.”

Banyana will take on Netherlands and Sweden in friendly matches in the Mother City later this month.

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