After about 24-hours of travel, the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana was in high spirits when they touched down in Yaoundé, Cameroon on Wednesday afternoon (16 November 2016) just a few days before the start of the tournament.
“Travelling in our continent has never been an easy task, but there is no way around it. There are countries that are easy to travel to and others not as much. We are happy to have finally settled in and will continue our preparations for the tournament,” said Ellis.
“Ten years ago things were so different and women were viewed as abnormal to be playing football but times have changed. It is wonderful to see the interest people have in us as a team. We are very touched by the love and support we received from people beyond our borders, and would really like to thank Ethiopian Airways for the surprise they had for us on our flight from South Africa.”
With the travel out of the way, Banyana Banyana are now eager to get going in the tournament.
“We had a really long trip but the time helped to build the team spirit. We have already been to the training site, just to give the players a feel of the atmosphere. Although they wanted to have a full session, we could not allow it as we have a lot of work to still get through before our opening match,” added Ellis.
The former Banyana Banyana captain has also lauded the input from technical adviser Molefi Ntseki, who is also the head coach of the South African Men’s u17 National Team.
“He is one of us, he is just mind blowing to work with and some of the advice he has already given has changed the views we have of West Africa. Obviously temperatures are much higher here than back home, but Coach Ntseki has given us tips on how to approach these harsh conditions,” said Ellis.
Banyana Banyana’s campaign will kick off on Saturday, 19 November 2016 when they face Zimbabwe at 18h30 local time in Cameroon (SA time 19h30). The second fixture will be against the hosts on Tuesday, 22 November at 16h00 (SA time 17h00). Both matches are at Stade Yaounde.
The South Africans will then travel to Limbe for their last Group A clash against Egypt on Friday, 25 November.