As much as she was proud of the efforts of her team, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says it was “criminal to give away goals in that manner” in the 2-2 draw with Chile.
The second match of their South American trip saw Banyana at least holding their own against the Chileans, who have already qualified for next year’s World Cup in France, following a 2-1 defeat in the first match last Saturday.
But it could’ve, and should’ve, been a different result for the South Africans on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning SA time). Ellis was particular unhappy about her team conceding both goals from set-pieces, after Banyana had led twice in the match through goals by Refiloe Jane and Thembi Kgatlana.
With the much bigger, physical African teams awaiting them in the African Women’s Championship in Ghana next month – which serves as the World Cup qualifying tournament – Ellis knows that a solution has to be found quickly.
“We need to really look at the set-piece situation as we didn’t defend really well. We need to look at what the problem is, but the less said about the free kicks that led to that, the better.
“But that’s what you are going to get, and you have to deal with it,” she said in an interview on the SA Football Association website.
“We are not a tall group of players, but pride ourselves on defence.
“At times I felt we just needed a little bit more help from the goalkeeper (Kaylin Swart). Maybe she felt the balls were just too far out, but we needed her really to come and get those.
“But we will have a look at the video, and it is a concern as at Afcon, we are playing against Nigeria and Cameroon, who are tall and physical.
“It’s criminal to give away goals in that manner, and the second goal was scored by one of their shortest players, so it’s not really a height issue. It’s just about picking up the player you’ve been assigned to.”
But the coach, who is also a former Banyana captain, was delighted with the attacking play, although there were a number of missed goal-scoring opportunities as well.
“We wanted to test ourselves and reach our objectives, and I think we did. They tried to change the way they played, and we were up for it all the time. It is definitely an improved performance from Cosafa,” Ellis said.
“In our attack, we were so swift in our passing and created a lot of problems with Thembi, Fifi (Jane) and Linda (Motlhalo). And Melinda (Kgadiete) had a really good game in holding up the ball and bringing the others in.
“It’s a good return (for Jane, who scored her fourth goal in three games), and we are playing her a little bit up the field. She’s getting it on target more often in practice too, and she’s becoming a key goal-scorer.”