South Africa coach Desiree Ellis appealed on Sunday to the government and sponsors to step up if women’s football in the country is to push on after the team’s historic World Cup run.
The African champion won a World Cup game for the first time, stunning Italy 3-2 to seal a landmark place in the last 16 in Australia and New Zealand.
Its run came to an end in a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in Sydney, but it gave the 2019 finalist numerous scares, especially in the first half.
“To the sponsors: I don’t know how you can ignore something special like this,” said Ellis, who felt her team had enough chances in the opening 45 minutes to have been out of sight.
“I don’t know how you can’t assist in getting us to climb up the ladder and assist in getting us better.”
Ellis said there were players in her squad who still had full-time jobs outside football and called for South Africa to establish a professional league.
“What this team has achieved, I think the corporate world needs to stand up and really take notice and be counted,” she said.
“Otherwise we will come back in four years’ time and go through the same thing... we could have gone further.
“When I looked at how the World Cup was going (with surprise results), the possibility of us winning it was there.
“So we urge the corporates to assist here. We urge the government even to step in and assist and push the corporates to come on board.
“It’s not just our senior team, it’s our youth teams as well -- there are no sponsors.”
South Africa, which was squeezed out 2-1 by Sweden and drew 2-2 with Argentina in the group stage, had half a dozen chances in the first half against the Dutch.
But together with some wasteful finishing, it found goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar in unbeatable form.
“We spoke about underdogs yesterday, I don’t think there are underdogs in this World Cup,” said Ellis, whose players were given a warm reception by the Sydney Football Stadium crowd on a lap of honour at the end.
“The whole of South Africa should be very proud of this team.
“I know everybody got up early in the morning (back home) and expected victory.
“We are proud -- disappointed of course -- but proud of the players,” she added.
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