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WOMEN'S WORLD CUP

Banyana Banyana prepare for more assured performance as they take on Australia

Banyana Banyana prepare for more assured performance as they take on Australia
Michelle Micayla Sampson of South Africa during the Cosafa Women's Championship semi-final match between South Africa and Namibia at Isaac Wolfson Stadium on 9 September, 2022 in Gqeberha, South Africa. (Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

Banyana Banyana will look to bounce back from their heavy losses to Brazil in September. However, their next opponents Australia (ranked 12th in the world) will also ask some tough questions of the South Africans.

Winning your maiden continental title after five previous losses at the final stage, then being brought back to reality with a thud owing to a heavy defeat can be emotionally and mentally taxing.

That’s what happened to South Africa’s senior women’s football side Banyana Banyana recently. Desiree Ellis’s side were still in seventh heaven following their first-ever Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) title back in July.

However, a couple of friendly encounters against Brazil — which ended with a 9-0 aggregate score in favour of the South American champions — demonstrated just how far the South Africans still are from some of their global counterparts.

Such defeats can be a mental bulldozer to the confidence of players. Even if losing is equally part of sports as winning, it is never an easy meal to digest. According to Ellis though, the team has chosen not to dwell on the result, instead looking for lessons to carry it forward.

“We’ve got a mental coach that has helped us a lot [after those defeats]. She’s been doing a lot of good work,” Ellis told journalists earlier this week, as her team trained for the last time before departing for another international friendly in the UK.

Koketso Mmathabo Mary Tlailane of Banyana Banyana

Koketso Mmathabo Mary Tlailane of South Africa during the Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-final match between South Africa and Namibia at Isaac Wolfson Stadium on 9 September, 2022 in Gqeberha, South Africa. (Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

The South Africans are set to clash with the co-hosts of the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup — Australia — in London on Saturday, 8 October.

“We sat down. We had a discussion about [the Brazil results]. The players had received the footage. We know it’s part of preparation. As much as we’d like to forget about it, it’s still in the back of our minds. We know we are better. Hopefully, we’ll take those lessons to be better in the next game,” shared Ellis.

“We all agree, it was not a great moment, for all of us. But we know we are better. We’ve got to go on to the field and be better. We can’t just talk. We must do the job.”


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The clash with the Australians, who are ranked 12th in the latest Fifa global standings, presents Banyana with a further litmus test as the team steps up preparations for only its second-ever World Cup appearance, and the second on the trot after its 2019 debut.  

For the battle against Australia’s Matildas, Ellis has dropped a couple of veterans in the form of co-captain Janine van Wyk, as well as goalkeeper Kaylin Swart. Midfielder Nomvula Kgoale was not considered due to being currently clubless. 

“Players have now got to step up. Wafcon was a different level, compared to the level at the World Cup. If you don’t step up, we leave you behind and take others on our journey,” said the long-time Banyana coach.

Ellis said she wanted to grant other players an opportunity to show what they can do when she selected the team. She said the door is not closed on any player and those who did not make this squad can still work their way back into contention in the months leading up to the World Cup.

Players such as University of Johannesburg duo Dineo Magagula (goalkeeper), and Sphumelele Shamase (forward) have been roped in to stake their claim. As has JVW’s teenage midfielder Cimone Sauls.

Meanwhile, the side’s first choice goalminder Andile Dlamini has not travelled due to a bereavement in her family. While star striker Thembi Kgatlana is still recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture suffered during Wafcon.

Ellis and her technical team are expecting a more assured performance from their troops. In spite of the clear gulf in quality as they clashed with Brazil, Banyana were also their own enemies as they made silly mistakes that were severely punished.

“If the players can just believe in themselves. Because we think they are fantastic. But they’ve also got to believe in themselves. They’ve got to push their levels up,” shared Ellis.

The match will kick off at 1:30pm South African time. DM

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