Banyana Banyana can ill afford to put a foot wrong in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup if they are to achieve their goal of reaching the group stages of the tournament for the first time in their history.
Following South Africa’s demoralising 2-1 defeat to 3rd ranked Sweden on Sunday morning in Group G, the task of making it out of the group was made a bit more arduous by Italy’s defeat over Argentina on Monday.
That result means that Banyana must win against Argentina on Friday morning to keep their hopes alive. The African champions will have to quickly put the disappointment of Sunday behind them as they conceded in stoppage to relinquish their first ever point at a World Cup as Amanda Ilestedt scored in stoppage time to break South African hearts.
Coach Desiree Ellis, however, believes there are a lot of positives to take from that defeat.
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“I thought everything they threw at us we handled really well, and our transitions were really good, but our decisions in the final third could have been better on occasions, and we would have been in [on goal],” said the Banyana mentor.
“When we scored, we still had control of the game. I think the own goal came at an unfortunate time and that put us back a bit. We always knew, physically, they were going to challenge us aerially, but throughout the game we handled that extremely well. I am really proud of the players. We had a game plan and we played accordingly to the game plan.”
“But we didn’t take our chances really and, being the side that Sweden is with the players that they have and the resilience that they have, they kept coming but I felt our defence played really well, but we just couldn’t hold on in the end.”
Banyana are back in action on Friday, 28 July at 02:00am SA time against Argentina before taking on Italy in their final Group G clash on Tuesday, 2 August at 9am.
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari