Durban - Following a week of uncertainty and doubt, The South African Women’s football team, Banyana Banyana have responded in compelling style and coach Desiree Ellis believes the credit should go to her players for executing her plans to perfection.
Banyana Banyana convincingly placed themselves one step closer to qualifying for this year’s African Woman Cup of Nations with a 2-0 first leg victory over Algeria yesterday afternoon.
Coach Ellis felt Banyana’s biggest positive was not the scoreline but rather the performance on display.
“We planned well but the players executed our plans to perfection. We anticipated that they were going to play a low block, so we opted to work directly on those kinds of situations during the week,” she said.
Ellis’ team seemed to be a few levels higher than their North African counterparts, first to every header and sharper to the second ball.
Kholose Biyana and Refiloe Jane exhibited a midfield masterclass, dominating possession for large periods of the game and stronger than the Algerians in the tackle, the growth of their individual attributes since their overseas move clearly on display.
Coach Ellis revealed that their hardest job on the day was having to constantly remind her players not to be dragged into a spot of comfort and complacency as that would open room for an upset.
“We controlled the majority of the match and I constantly encouraged our players to increase the tempo of play because we didn’t want to be dragged towards a situation where we played the game our opponents wanted to play,” she explained.
The home side sent out an unfamiliar centre back pairing as team captain Janine Van Wyk had fieldside view of Noko Matlou and Bambanani Mbane’s near flawless performance.
Even though the duo played mostly with the ball at their feet, Ellis outlined the importance of snuffing out any potential danger in a game they had command over.
“I thought our centre backs were tremendous today, Matlou and Mbane dealt with the long balls really well. We knew that was another threat they possessed so we prepared for that,” she indicated.
Banyana will have to brush up on their finishing heading into the second leg in Algeria. The one negative aspect that continues to worry Ellis.
“We definitely should have scored more today and it’s been our achilles heel for a while now. We could’ve been more aware and composed in the box so we put ourselves in a better position to score,” she expressed.