Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis insists she is really pleased with her side’s display, despite suffering a defeat to the Netherlands at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Two goals from the Dutch nation was enough to overcome Banyana 2-1 in the first-ever inaugural Winnie Mandela International Challenge.
This was the first match of the year for both nations, who are currently preparing for the upcoming Fifa Women’s World Cup in France later this year.
Ellis says she is pleased with her team’s performance despite losing the game, as it was their first game back from a two-month break.
‘We started off real bad, conceded and then conceded again, but I know the quality we have within the team. I thought we responded really well after that. When we put the ball on the ground, we looked so much better,’ Ellis said.
‘Our pace upfront was always going to trouble them [the Netherlands], but we didn’t use it often enough. You are playing against the number seventh-ranked team in the world and current [European] champions.’
She continued: ‘We have been off for two months and the second half was going to be a challenge for us coming from an off-season, but I was very happy.’
The South African Women’s national team met Sweden last year in Ellis’ first game as head coach, with the European side walking away 3-0 winners on the day.
‘Last year this time we player Sweden and sort of folded in the second half when the fatigue set in and we started making changes. I felt the changes really lifted the level of play,’ Ellis added.
Ellis also handed Karabo Dhlamini her debut against the Dutch outfit when she came on in the 62nd minute to replace Mamello Makhabane.
‘We also gave a debut to 17-year-old Karabo Dhlamini, who has just came back from the U17 Fifa Women’s World Cup,’ she stated.
‘We’re really happy with the performance, we are just sorry we couldn’t win it for Ma Winnie, but we are really pleased.
‘A lot of positives so early in the year, but credit to the Netherlands, it shows the quality they have, and congratulations to coach [Sarina Wiegman] on the victory and all of the best for you,’ Ellis concluded.
Banyana Banyana will now take on Sweden in their next fixture at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday, with kick-off set for 7pm.
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