South African women’s team coach Desiree Ellis says they lost to a better team as her charges were defeated 2-0 by France in an international friendly clash that took place at Stade de l’Est Jean Ivoula in Saint-Denis, Reunion Islands on Sunday.
Two goals by Griedge Mbock Bathy in the first half were enough to hand the Europeans their successive victory over Banyana Banyana in their second meeting since 2009.
Ellis says her side just could not get going in the match, especially in the first half.
“We had a game plan but we didn’t execute it as well as we should have. Conceding in the 8th minute we almost had to restart again, and we at times couldn’t get hold of the ball but when we did we looked good. I was just happy that we never gave up, we kept playing and fighting, which is important when you conceded an early goal,” says Ellis.
“We come out of the festive break, and that is not ideal to play a match of this magnitude but I feel we gave a good account of ourselves. We introduced Bontle Mashilo, who was making her debut, and she gave a good account of herself, and by making the changes the game also changed a bit and we were able to see more of the ball but our final pass was lacking. We didn’t create as many chances as we wanted to and we lost the ball at crucial times – playing under that high pressure sometimes does that to you and we were panicking but we calmed it down a bit and started playing better in the second half.”
Ellis adds that were lessons learnt.
“The movement of their attackers was something to behold and that is where I believe we have learnt something. We always speak about when we get the ball in the final third that’s where we need movement upfront, which the French did so well and we can learn that. Also the interplay between the fullback and their winger was fantastic. So at the end of the day it was a worthwhile exercise,” added Ellis.
For the players, it was another tough day at the office as well.
Captain Janine van Wyk says every match is a learning experience.
“I think we had a good match, considering we had a month’s break and had to come back to camp to prepare for a tough team like France – yes we didn’t get the result we wanted but we gained so much experience and we learnt so much from this game. We have learnt as a team and as individuals that when we face strong teams like these, we need to give our best and we did exactly that but we were not in the best of form. But we all played our hearts out despite the negative results – what counts is that we were all there for each other, so I am really pleased with the performance of the team and we can really grow from here,” said Van Wyk, who was substituted due to a shoulder injury. But she is recovering well.
“In the first half we expected them to come really hard at us because most of their players have tons of experience. It was for us a very good experience and great opportunity to grow and we just happy we got the chance to play against them.”
In the last 12 months, Banyana Banyana have played top countries like USA, the Netherlands, New Zealand, China, Sweden and Brazil.