‘Banyana have improved‚’ Ellis insists‚ despite pre-World Cup defeats
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has defended her team’s poor form since qualifying for their first-ever Fifa World Cup in France‚ where they will meet Spain in 15 days’ time in their opening match of Group B.
Two-time previous World Cup champions Germany and China complete Banyana’s group in the eighth women’s World Cup since the first was held in China in 1991.
Banyana have played eight preparation matches since qualifying for the World Cup by finishing second behind Nigeria in the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) in Ghana towards the end of last year.
In those matches Banyana have suffered defeats against Netherlands‚ North Korea‚ Finland‚ Czech Republic and USA and played to draws against Sweden‚ Finland and Jamaica.
Ellis said the team have learned a lot in those matches and they’ve had sufficient preparation to be among surprise teams to make the second round in the 24-team tournament.
“Look‚ you want to win games‚ that’s why you play football‚” Ellis said hours before the team jetted out of the country for the tournament in France.
“You also look at the improved performances and at the end of the day slowly and surely the team has improved.
“We will also play Norway in our last preparation match in France and possibly we will do a few things in that game. We want to make sure that the team is ready for our first game against Spain on the 8th of June.”
Ellis said the first match in Le Havre and performance they deliver in it will be crucial in ensuring Banyana go beyond the first round.
“In the first match we play Spain and you cannot look further than that‚” she said.
“If you get a positive result it sets a tone for the tournament. Similarly‚ in Awcon not getting a positive result would have put us on a back foot.
“Spain did not win a game in the last World Cup so their aim is also to win a game‚ so we just want to make sure that we have our plans in order.
“That first game will set the tone for the rest of tournament for us.”
- TMG Digital