Banyana optimistic after draw with Sweden

Dominique Bloodworth of Netherlands and Thembi Kgatlana of Banyana during their match on Saturday. /Gallo Images
Dominique Bloodworth of Netherlands and Thembi Kgatlana of Banyana during their match on Saturday. /Gallo Images

Banyana Banyana's gallant performance to hold Sweden to a goalless draw at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday has brought about excitement and a palpable sense of optimism leading up to their maiden World Cup this winter.

Converting their chances was the only missing aspect in Desiree Ellis' team as they frustrated Sweden, ranked ninth in the World. The 0-0 stalemate meant the inaugural Albertina Sisulu International Challenge trophy is shared.

It was SA's second international friendly in three days following their 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands at the same venue last Saturday. Both games were primarily aimed at gauging Banyana's readiness for their first-ever Fifa World Cup, to be hosted by France from June 7 to July 7.

"Going forward, whoever we play ... this team has no fear. It [their display against Sweden] shows that we can play at this level. The belief is so big," said coach Ellis.

"Playing two games almost back-to-back against the Netherlands, who are ranked seventh, and Sweden, who are ranked ninth, to give such performances shows we are on the right track so early in the year."

But Banyana deputy captain Refiloe "Fifi" Jane wasn't too pleased about their bluntness in front of goals, urging her teammates to make amends.

"Keeping a clean sheet against Sweden is positive for the team. We create the chances but we do not score, going forward we have to be sharp upfront," said Jane, who captained the side as Janine van Wyk missed the match due to a groin strain.

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