Ellis satisfied despite loss to Ghana QueensThomas Kwenaite
South African national women coach Desiree Ellis wrapped up preparations for the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) and expressed her satisfaction about the readiness of Banyana Banyana, despite a 1-0 loss to the hosts.
The South Africans depart from the capital Accra on their way to the Gold Coast city in the North of the country where they will play their opening two group matches against Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea before returning to Accra for their final match against Zambia.
“I thought we played well against Ghana,” said Ellis. “Even though I thought in the first half we didn’t show up. At times we lost possession easily while trying to get players available and were thus forced to play the long ball. I thought that was poor.”
Ellis said she had to manage the players properly considering that her vice-captain Refiloe Jane had flown hallway across the world from Australia and had to be rested before being introduced in the second half, but was satisfied about the second half showing.
“Although we handled the situation poorly, I think we regrouped in the second half and controlled the match and really played the way we wanted to play. And I thought with a little bit of composure, Thembi (Kgatlana) could have scored a brace.
“At one stage she rounded the goalkeeper and then hurried a shot when in a one-on-one situation and crashed her attempt against the crossbar. I think we need to be consistent and play with the say tempo right from the start until the end.
“But to be fair, we played under hot and humid conditions and I was quite satisfied about the overall performance in terms of the fitness levels of the team as they displayed intensity throughout the encounter.”
Ellis however, cautioned her team to maintain consistency and to stay focused from the minute the referee blows the whistle until the final whistle although they took control after making second half changes.
“But we just cannot pitch up only in the second half. We got to play right from the beginning although I thought the introduction of Jane and Jermaine Seoposenwe changed the complexion of the game and tilted it towards us completely.”
Ellis said they have almost completed their preparations and would be concentrating on their final attacking third, fine tuning their combinations and working on their finishing as well as set-pieces leading up to their opening match against Nigeria on Sunday.
The tournament will serve as a World Cup qualifier as well and the top three countries will qualify for the FIFA World Cup scheduled for France next year.