’Rusty’ Banyana Banyana run rings around Ghana's Black Queens
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CAPE TOWN - Despite a lack of match practice ahead of Friday's Aisha Buhari Cup opener against Ghana's Black Queens, South Africa's Banyana Banyana scored a runaway 3-0 win at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, in Lagos, after leading 1-0 at halftime.
The reigning CAF Women's Coach of the Year Desiree Ellis said afterwards that the South Africans "were a bit rusty" since some overseas-based players last played with the current squad two years ago.
"In the beginning, we were a bit rusty. We haven't played since April, and some of our (foreign) players, we haven't seen since 2019," said Ellis, who added that the squad assembled only two days prior.
"We know our opponents (Ghana) have been in training for a while.
"Today, we created a lot of opportunities, and we got better as the game went on.
"We know that there's a game coming up (against Nigeria) and needed to manage ourselves better.
"We are happy with the result, and the performance still leaves a lot of room for improvement."
South Africa captain Janine van Wyk led from the front with a solid performance at the heart of her team's defence.
"We know that Ghana is a powerhouse in African football," said Van Wyk. "I think that any team that they field will be a strong team, and we had a mentality that they will come out strong.
"Everyone on our team was ready for a good fight. We played better and managed the game well. I think that comes with the experience of the players on the team.
"Overall, looking at the result and performances, I think we were the better team today."
Ghana coach Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo said she was able to test some newcomers in the absence of some experienced players.
"I think we've had a good game, even though we lost the match, but it's a preparatory game for Ghana," said Tagoe-Quarcoo.
"We have an important assignment ahead. I brought in new players to test and see how best they fit into my team.
"I missed a lot of my experienced players, not only just the captain (Elizabeth Addo). When I have the full complement of my team, you will see a different ball game.
"I'm not embarrassed at all by the result. It was a preparatory match. I have a major agenda, for the major task ahead."
It was a frustrating outing for Ghana goalkeeper Dumehasi Fafali after her side conceded three goals and were under the whip for sustained periods.
"This is a game, and in games like this, mistakes do happen. Though it's painful to lose, this is an exercise to prepare for the major assignment ahead of us, which is the Africa Women's Cup of Nations qualifiers."
Ghana will return to the stadium on Monday for a match against Cameroon.
On Tuesday, South Africa will play their final match at the same stadium against Nigeria's Super Falcons. They will try to avenge their 2018 AWCON final loss. The Super Falcons won 4-3 on penalties on that occasion.