DURBAN – Banyana Banyana are going through a barren run in 2019 following their success last year, where they finished as runners-up at the African Women’s Championship in Ghana.
They only succumbed to Nigeria on penalties but that was enough for the women’s senior team to book themselves a place in France, where the World Cup will be held in June.
Banyana were also crowned as the champions of the Cosafa Cup, but the ladies are yet to get off mark in the new year. First they lost to the Netherlands and drew with Sweden in Cape Town, then they endured a disastrous tournament at the Women’s Cyprus Cup in March, where they failed to register a win in three games. They also suffered defeats at the hands of Czech Republic and North Korea, and scraped a draw with Finland.
Banyana also failed to beat Jamaica this past weekend in their last game in front of their own supporters at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, and played out to a 1-1 stalemate.
“You always want to win games. You want to score goals and do well. I felt it was an opportunity to do that and we did not. We are also looking at the bigger picture which is the World Cup. We are happy with the effort.
If we drew and there was hardly an effort and we didn’t create opportunities, it would have been a huge matter of concern. There’s is a still concern that we are not scoring enough goals with the chances that we are creating,” coach Desiree Ellis explained.
Banyana will now face USA away from home before they head to the World Cup.
“We’ve asked players to go home and work on their finishing as we have a week to prepare. We have to do a lot in that week. We need to be more composed in the box. We had instances we rushed instead of taking our time. We want to win because winning gives you confidence. But what I can say is that there was no lack of effort,” she added.
Ellis and her troops are in a group with Germany, Spain and China in the World Cup.
“We wanted to get a better result especially in a send-off match. I felt that after we scored, we had control of the game. At times we gave the ball away very silly in key areas. Andile Dlamini made one or two good saves, while, in the second half, we had opportunities. Even though they scored a good goal I feel we could have handled it a little better,” Ellis concluded.
Thank you very much Durban you were amazing. @MMStadium you were a great host. To the fans, your support is highly appreciated, keep it up! See you soon l! @Banyana_Banyana @SAFA_net @BafanaBafana @SasolSA @SasolLeague #limitless pic.twitter.com/ilGukGC9GF
— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) April 8, 2019
Leandra Smeda missed a crucial penalty for Banyana, but insisted that she will continue to take penalties in future.
“I was aiming for the near post but penalties are like that. You score some and you miss some. I can always go back and work on my penalty taking skills. The next penalty, I will step up again. As a player after missing a penalty you can’t just decide that you don’t want to take penalties anymore,” Smeda elaborated. “You need to grow from the mistakes you make. As players there’s always a room to learn and improve.
“We would love to thank the supporters who came in their numbers. We are aware that it won’t be easy for us at the World Cup but we will do our best and make sure that we make the nation proud,” Smeda said.