Clash with Italy is Banyana’s real final – Ellis

Skipper Jane recovering well and could be back for crunch tie

31 July 2023 - 07:38
By Neville Khoza
 Refiloe Jane receives medical attention.
Image: REUTERS/Molly Darlington Refiloe Jane receives medical attention.

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has promised they will do their all to make sure they win their match against Italy and advance to the last 16 of the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

After bottling a 2-0 lead to share spoils with Argentina on Friday, Banyana now require an outright victory against Italy at Wellington Regional Stadium on Wednesday (9am SA time), and hope Sweden, who have already qualified for the knockout stage, beat or draw against Argentina in the other match. 

Ellis admitted that they needed nothing less than three points against Italy, who lost 0-5 to Sweden on Saturday.

“Look, it’s the final, you can’t think anything beyond that. We spoke about Argentina being the final, but this is the final,” Ellis told the media after the training yesterday.

“We believe we can still get a result to take us to the next stage, but we got everything out there and we have to make sure that we leave no stone unturned so that when we get the opportunities we take it.”

Following their disappointing 2-2 draw with Argentina, Ellis said they looked at what went wrong in that match.

“We did some analysis this morning (yesterday). We looked at what we could have done better, but we also showed some good moments because we are still in it,” she said.

“This session is based on what we need to do, and how we are going to prepare for the Italy game. We know it is a must-win, but this team has shown through a lot of challenges and a lot of adversity that they can rise.

Meanwhile, Banyana team doctor Nthabiseng Maesela says captain Refiloe Jane, who limped off against Argentina, could return to action soon as her injury is not as serious as initially feared. 

“Refiloe is doing well. After going for a scan, it was confirmed that she sustained a soft tissue injury and she should be back on the field soon,” Maesela told the Safa website.

“I can further confirm that there are no other injuries or illnesses within the team. Everyone is healthy and ready to continue with preparations for our final group match against Italy on Wednesday.”