‘The effort was incredible‚’ says Banyana coach Ellis

South Africa's coach Desiree Ellis (R) attendsthe France 2019 Women's World Cup Group B football match between South Africa and China, on June 13, 2019, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
South Africa's coach Desiree Ellis (R) attendsthe France 2019 Women's World Cup Group B football match between South Africa and China, on June 13, 2019, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
Image: Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says she cannot fault the effort of her players after their 1-0 defeat to China at the Fifa Women’s World Cup ended any realistic hopes of a second-round place.

Banyana would need a big win against fancied Germany and hope that other results go their way if they are to finish as one of the best third-placed sides‚ but it looks for all real money as though their World Cup dream will end on the first round.

A goal from Li Ying settled the game in Paris on Thursday night‚ during which Banyana had just a single shot on target and never unduly troubled the Chinese goalkeeper‚ Peng Shimeng.

“Very disappointed with the result – we knew it would be another battle‚” Ellis said. “A bit of a lapse of concentration [for their goal]‚ but we had a couple of chances.

“We have spoken before about the chances we get that we do not take‚ so that was disappointing.

“We were not composed when we were in good areas‚ we were not composed enough to perhaps look up and see better options. But the effort out there was incredible‚ players putting their bodies on the line.”

Ellis said Banyana’s results in this tournament have not been for a lack of trying and they will take plenty of lessons home with them.

“We wanted to make sure that‚ whatever happened‚ China knew they were in a game and I think that everybody back home is just as disappointed as we are‚ but everybody stood up.

“That is the amazing thing about this group of players – that no matter when they go onto the field‚ they give their all. That is all you can ask for and today it was a fantastic effort.”

Banyana have now not won any of their last 12 internationals since beating Mali 2-0 in the semifinals of the 2018 Africa Women’s Nations Cup in November‚ but Ellis believes they are on the right track.

“Pretty soon the results will go our way‚ we just have to keep working hard against the teams that have been to many World Cups‚” she said.

“We have always spoken about minimising our mistakes‚ being concentrated for the 90 minutes and doing your roles for the full game‚ and taking our chances. When you play against the so-called better sides‚ those are the lessons.

“We can only improve‚ we can only get better and the main challenge is taking our chances. We are continually working on finishing and one day we will get the results we deserve.”

Banyana are next in action against Germany on Monday.

“This will be our toughest game. They are very structured and organised‚ we have to be on top of our game‚” Ellis said.

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