Desiree Ellis chats to the Banyana Banyana players at practice in Le Harve, France this week. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has urged her players to “fight for the badge” when they kick off their Women’s World Cup campaign against Spain on Saturday night.

The South Africans will make their tournament debut at the Stade Océane in Le Harve, France, with a 6pm SA time start.

Banyana come into the event on the back of a poor warm-up phase, where they lost 3-0 to the United States, and then received a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Norway.

But Ellis feels that her team won’t be overawed by the big occasion, adding that they are capable of better football than what they have shown recently.

“We want to make sure that the players understand what they need to do on game-day. We have a plan, and hopefully we can use our strengths as well,” Ellis told the Safa website on Thursday.

“Spain had a whole entourage at our last game (against Norway), but we know we’re better than that (performance).

“We know what this team is capable of, and if everyone understands their roles, we can get off to a good start.

“It was a long, hard task to qualify for the World Cup. It’s all about the players – it’s their big stage. The whole of South Africa will be watching, even the President.

“It’s about fighting for each other, fighting for the badge – for everyone who didn’t have the opportunity (to play on a world stage).

“This is Spain’s second World Cup, and they are ranked in the top 20. But if everyone does their task as an individual, then everything will be okay.

“You can see it in their eyes, how much they want it. It’s going to take a huge effort to start the tournament on a good note. We want to make sure that at the end of the tournament, people remember South Africa.”

Banyana’s other Group B opponents are China (13 June at 9pm) and Germany (17 June at 6pm).

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