Banyana Banyana were beaten 2-0 by former world champions, Japan, and head coach, Desiree Ellis, has given some insight into the clash in Fukuoka.
Goals from Lyon’s Saki Kumagai and Yuika Sugasawa of Urawa Reds saw the Japanese pick up a win over the South Africans in their international friendly a few days ago, but Ellis doesn’t feel like they were outclassed by a team ranked 45 places above them in the latest FIFA rankings.
Ellis and her side have had a busy 2019 as they travelled the world playing opposition all over the globe, and to end it against ex-World Cup champions after making their own World Cup debut not too long ago, seems fitting.
Speaking to SAFA.net after the game against the Japanese, Banyana’s head coach said that the game didn't quite go to plan, admitting that she had hoped to see star attacker, Thembi Kgatlana, get more support up front.
Ellis explained, “I felt that after, being dormant for two months, we needed to be on top of our game and I think for the first 20 minutes we showed our intent… We were compact and organised, but it takes that one moment to make a mistake and get punished.
“We spoke of minimising our mistakes and there was one moment where we were not switched on and we got punished. Overall, we played our type of football and at times I thought we troubled the Japanese defence. I also thought when Thembi broke, we didn’t have enough support to her.
“The support came later but we could not get enough support to her, and again later in the first half, the critical moment when we failed to pick up the opponent, made another mistake and got punished.
“I think the Japanese fans will go away and say it was a good game, this is a good side and as you saw, we play the similar way they play. They are slightly ahead of us but I am happy with the performance but obviously not the result.”
The game in Japan was Banyana’s final game of 2019 as they closed off what has been an exciting year for women’s football in South Africa after making their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut and seeing the launch of the SAFA Women’s National League.
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Now, with a new year on the horizon, the Siya crew have been led to believe that plans are in place to potentially organise friendlies against South American opposition in the new year.