Banyana Banyana went toe-to-toe with world champions the USA, and although they suffered a 3-0 defeat, coach Desiree Ellis was pleased with the performance.
Banyana played at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium, on Sunday night, but after a spirited start to the game, they conceded two second-half goals.
Ellis felt that the South Africans – who were in California for a pre-World Cup friendly – had done well to keep the Americans at bay until the 37th minute, when Samantha Mewis scored the opener.
But Janine van Wyk’s team battled to retain possession, according to the coach.
“I thought in the first half, we did very well, especially our organisation and structure was perfect. There were no lines to play through, and our cover was good,” Ellis told the Safa website on Monday.
“The only thing was when we won the ball, our decision-making could’ve been more effective. We could’ve rotated the ball more, but we sometimes rushed it and kicked it away.
“USA were really a test, and they had their best players on the pitch. I thought we defended a couple of their crosses well.
“Noko (Matlou) got injured, after she had played really well. Sometimes it takes a while for the new players to settle in… and the rhythm is a bit upset.
“The last two goals could’ve been avoided as well – not tracking back, and not being tighter in the box. We spoke about these things, to minimise mistakes.
“We had one or two opportunities to catch them on the counter, but again, wrong decisions being made.”
Ellis, though, was still impressed by her team’s defensive efforts.
After a tough couple of days in the US, we get to take some time off to go see the beautiful city of San Francisco before our long journey back home 🙌 So excited 😃 🌉
“We used to concede a lot of goals in the first 10 to 15 minutes, but Janine marshalled the defence really well. Everybody played their part in those first 30 minutes, and unfortunately we conceded,” she said.
“We were organised, and they brought on their big guns, and those players changed the game. At times we just panicked and kicked the ball away.
“One or two moments, we actually played the ball and caught them on the counter. But with all the changes and tiredness, it disrupts the rhythm. Not the result we wanted, but very happy.”
Banyana will return home, before taking on Norway in Amiens, France on June 2 ahead of the Women’s World Cup in the same country.