Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was not pleased with her side’s performance in their 1-0 victory against Lesotho in the 2019 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations first leg qualifier away at the Setsoto National Stadium on Wednesday. The return leg will be held on Sunday at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein at 3pm. Banyana Banyana went into the encounter against Lesotho as clear favourites. However, according to Ellis their early lead that came via Leandra Smeda did more damage than good in terms of their performance.
“We didn’t play well,’’ Ellis said. “We could have done way better than we did. We were very sloppy, not just in our performance but in our passing and decision making. We scored early, then we became a little bit complacent.’’
And the wheels came off.
“We tried to remind them that the game is not yet over, and we need to stay focused. We also reminded that we are in control of the game but it could turn into a battle (if they lose focus). And eventually, it turned into a battle and that’s not what we wanted. We also had a few more chances where we could have finished the game off but we did not. However we’ll continue working on that.
“We could have finished off the tie but we’re disappointed that we didn’t.”
Ellis’ squad is largely made up of fresh blood from the junior national team ranks. This follows the exclusion of United States based trio Janine van Wyk, Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo who are on club duty with Houston Dash. The last time the 55-year-old placed her faith in only locally based players was in the 2017 COSAFA Cup tournament where she became the only South African to win the competition as a player and a coach. Despite the narrow win in Maseru, Ellis is still confident that her charges can do the job at home.
“The team that we put on the park was good enough to get the result for us (on Wednesday),” she said.
“But unfortunately, things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. We’ve brought some young players with us so as to blood them into the senior team. We want to have a progression from the players that come through, and some of them have raised their hands. The senior players also need to stand up. It’s just a pity that we are experiencing the same problem as Bafana Bafana who also do not take their chances.”
The Salt River-born coach is also banking on the country’s support to drive the girls to victory in Mangaung.
“We prepared about a week before we came to camp,” Ellis explained.
“So we had about two weeks to prepare and our Sasol League is on at the moment which allows us to play. We were just complacent and sloppy and that needs to improve at home.
“We know that our fans will be there, and we want to play well for them. As a result, I feel that we can.’’