Desiree Ellis is hopeful that Banyana will convert their scoring opportunities against Chile. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Coach Desiree Ellis praised Banyana Banyana for a tenacious performance in a losing cause against Chile, but has urged her players to finish better in the second international on Tuesday.

Banyana were rocked by the red card to striker Jermaine Seoposenwe in the first half, and lost 2-1 on Saturday night in Vina del Mar, Chile.

Now they won’t have Seoposenwe available for the second game of the two-match trip to South America, which takes place on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning 3am SA time).

Ellis said in an interview with the Safa website that her team can take a lot of positive aspects out of the first game, but that their finishing had to improve with a view to next month’s African Women’s Championship in Ghana.

The tournament serves as the World Cup qualifier, with the top three teams going through to the showpiece in France next June.

“Not the result we wanted, but considering the circumstances, especially in the first half, they had a lot of possession and didn’t really threaten us. At the set-piece, there was poor defending and we gave a goal away,” Ellis said.

“The sending-off of Jermaine played a huge part in the way we wanted to play – we had to set up differently. But I felt even with 10 on the field, we looked more dangerous, and scored the equaliser.

“But we’ve got to stay calm, we’ve got to manage that, and we didn’t manage that well. We conceded a penalty – and Kaylin (Swart, goalkeeper) almost saved it.

“The fighting spirit of the players, the will to play for each other, going forward when we were down to 10, and still trying to get the equaliser, that shows the character of the team.

“Disappointed in the result, but not the performance. A lot of character and grit, determination was shown. Very proud, I felt we acquitted ourselves very well.”

Now it’s about fixing the shortcomings from the first encounter, and Ellis feels that they could even cause an upset against Chile, who have already qualified for the World Cup.

“Our decision-making in the final-third definitely has to improve, as we got there and made the wrong choice. Some of our passing went astray… if they had gone just to the left in one instance or to the right in another,” Ellis said.

“And Kgaelebane (Mohlakoana) had a very good chance in the first half, but hit the post. We’ve got to start being more clinical in front of goal.

“It was really a test of character coming here – I’m still struggling with jet-lag, so I can imagine what the players are going through.

“They play South American football, which is to pass the ball around, and they brought the physicality of the African teams. Sometimes our players were rushed as they were closed down, and that is what you want.

“Now we have to go into the next game and show what we have learnt. I believe we have a chance.”



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