Banyana Banyana head coach, Desiree Ellis, has defended her selection of goalkeeper, Kaylin Swart, ahead Andile Dlamini at the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Ellis’ selections at the global showpiece have come under scrutiny from some South Africans as results have not been forthcoming. Banyana lost their Group G opener 2-1 to Sweden after scoring first, and then went on to squander a two goal lead to draw 2-2 against Argentina.
The WAFCON-winning coach addressed a digital press conference from the team’s base in Wellington on Monday, ahead of Banyana’s must-win final group G game against Italy at Wellington Regional Stadium on Wednesday (9am SA time).
Even with South Africa somewhat punching above their weight at the tournament, there have been questions over the ommission of goalkeeper Dlamini, who starred in Banyana’s 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph, being sidelined while Swart has looked unconvincing between the posts.
Ellis has insisted that Swart is capable of the role and insists that she’s in the starting eleven on merit.
“I’m not sure what that is based on because if we look at Kaylin’s involvement, including [taking] the back-passes, it’s higher than other goalkeepers in the tournament,” the coach said.
“And we specifically selected her for [that aspect] to be able to assist us when we go back and get us on the front foot too.”
Ellis was also asked if she will consider defensive or goalkeeping changes against Italy to which she continued to defend her players.
“Almost every team at this World Cup has conceded and that included the number one, two and three-ranked teams. What makes us any different?” the coach asked.
“We look at each individual game and put out a team that we think can get the result. And when a player makes one mistake but has 12 or 15 other good moments, do we replace the player? The margins of error in this tournament are so small and we cannot discount players for every little error.”
“Tell me which coach won’t put out a team to win? It’s also my reputation on the line so I put a team out to win.”
Banyana need nothing, but a victory against Italy on Wednesday morning if they are to advance to the round of 16 of the World Cup.
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari