Desiree Ellis becomes the first person (male or female) to win the Cosafa Cup as player AND coach (South Africa)
There was no popping of champagne bottles or any wild celebrations to commemorate the historic win.
Instead, Banyana Banyana’s interim head coach, Desiree Ellis, enjoyed a quiet night at home with her family after returning home victorious from the Cosafa Cup Championship this week.
“There was no party at all,” said Ellis of the tournament in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
“It was a challenging few weeks so all I was looking forward to was relaxing at home. We took a few pictures with fans as we arrived back at the airport but that’s as much as we did.”
Ellis made history last weekend when she became the first South African – male or female – to win the championship both as a player and a coach.
The 54-year-old interim coach led the team to their fourth victory in the competition when they defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 in an exciting final at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo last Sunday.
This is Ellis’s second gold medal: she won her first in 2002 as a national team player.
“I’m truly humbled by the achievement, but it was never about me … It was always about the team,” said Ellis.
“I work with a special group of players. I was always confident the team could go all the way I said all along that they were special and indeed they proved they are.”
Having lifted the Cosafa Cup trophy as a player in 2002, Ellis said she had never imagined “in her wildest dreams” that she would win the same trophy as a coach.
“When I lifted the trophy in 2002, it was actually my last game as a Banyana player and I thought that was it for me. The credit should go to the players because they worked hard for it. Some players may not come back to this team, but they have something to shout about. They have created memories for themselves. It’s not about me, but the whole group. I will, however, cherish this for a long time to come.”
Ellis, who was appointed last October, said Banyana Banyana had gone into the tournament with a winning mentality. The team were unbeaten in the tournament.
“As a coach and as a team, it’s always the objective to go to a tournament and win it and that’s exactly the mentality we had The competition for places has been very tight with players really pushing each other in training and fighting to get into the starting 11.”
Ellis said the team’s remarkable comeback against Zambia in the semi-final had served as motivation before the final.
Down 3-0 in the 75th minute, Banyana Banyana scored three quick goals to leave the scores level at 3-3 at the end of regulation time and forced the match to a penalty shoot-out where they emerged victorious 5-3 to set up a repeat of the 2011 final where they played host Zimbabwe – and lost.
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