Banyana coach Ellis delighted with her side's progress six months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup

Sweden senior women's national team Caroline Seger (L) in a discussion with Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis (R) and captain Janine Van Wyk (R) after the game at the Cape Town Stadium on January 21 2019.
Sweden senior women's national team Caroline Seger (L) in a discussion with Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis (R) and captain Janine Van Wyk (R) after the game at the Cape Town Stadium on January 21 2019.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is delighted with the progress her side is making just six months out from the FIFA Women’s World Cup but admits there is still work to do if they are to reach their full potential.

Banyana played to a 0-0 draw against Sweden at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday night‚ which followed their narrow 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday in a game in which they deserved more joy.

The results against the teams ranked ninth and seventh in the world respectively‚ with Netherlands the reigning European champions‚ speaks volumes for the progress of Banyana in the last year.

Twelve months ago they also played Sweden in Cape Town and were easily brushed aside 3-0‚ but this year look more organized‚ in better physical shape and more confident to tackle the world’s best teams.

Chances were few and far between for both sides on Tuesday‚ but Banyana had their opportunities to get a famous win.

“We knew they struggle with pace so we went with two quickies up front [Thembi Kgatlana and Rhoda Mulaudzi] and I thought we started really well and put them under pressure‚” Ellis said.

“Compared to the match against the Netherlands we were a lot more composed and having Refiloe Jane in the middle helped to stabilise us.

“If we were a little more composed in front of goal we could have got a lot more shots on target. We stood up really well against them and could well have won the game.”

There has been much to admire in the Banyana performances over the last few days‚ but Ellis says she still has some key areas of concern looking ahead to the World Cup.

“At times we lose the ball too easily‚ there is no pressure and we try to force it. We spoke about it‚ being patient in our build-up. We need to move the ball around quicker to create space‚ but that will come.

“Our movement up front and availability of players when we have the ball‚ that also needs to improve.”

Next up for Banyana is the Cyprus Cup where they meet Finland (Feb. 27)‚ North Korea (Mar. 1) and Czech Republic (Mar. 4) in more vital preparation ahead of the World Cup.

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