Cape Argus

Banyana still too slow in taking chances

- MIHLALI BALEKA @Mihlalibal­eka

BANYANA Banyana may be winless in the last eight matches leading to their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup, but coach Desiree Ellis is optimistic that the lessons they have learnt from those matches were invaluable.

On Saturday, the South Africans clashed with world champions the United States of America, at Levi’s Stadium in California, in the penultimat­e round of the preparatio­ns. Banyana held their own, but USA reigned supreme with a 3-0 win. “Playing the US, we spoke about minimising the mistakes. We spoke about taking our chances if we created any,” Ellis said.

“The first box was definitely ticked – minimising our mistakes. In the second box, we didn’t create many scoring chances, but there were few opportunit­ies. The one from Sibulele (Holweni would have gone in) if she didn’t rush it after seeing the keeper off the line. And maybe a few inches to the right, she’d have scored.

“In the second half, we were very organised and structured. I spoke to coach Jill Ellis afterwards, and she said that we gave them a really good test, especially in the first half.”

The South Africans have had a roller-coaster of a year. They are exciting about going to the World Cup, but they have yet to taste the winning feeling.

In January, Ellis’s troops opened the year with aplomb as they pushed the Netherland­s and Sweden, who are ranked ninth and eight in the world respective­ly, to the limits, but couldn’t find their scoring boots.

Six matches later, Ellis’s troops are still searching for their first win in the New Year despite also playing in the Cyprus Cup – a tournament that has nations from Asia, Africa and Europe.

“It always helps to win a game because that boosts confidence,” Ellis said. “The Jamaican game was winnable. In the Netherland­s game, we could have got a better result if Jermaine (Seoposenwe) had broken through. Against Sweden, we had a couple of chances as well. It’s all about taking your chances. And that has been a concern for us, that when we do create chances, we don’t take them.”

Banyana will wrap up their preparatio­ns with a clash against Norway, who are ranked 12th in the world, on June2 in France. That encounter will require the South Africans to find their scoring boots while they shut the back door, and they will also get a chance to adapt to the conditions of the World Cup venue on and off the pitch. Moreover, that will give Ellis’s troops a chance to be more confident on the ball when they open their global soccer showpiece campaign against Spain on June 8 at Stade Oceane.

“We are looking for a win. We’ve got to go to the World Cup with a win. Norway are a different kind of team – very physical.

“They can prepare us for the likes of Germany.

“We have to get the results and improve from this performanc­e,” Ellis said.

Banyana are in group B alongside Spain, Germany and China.

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