Botswana were responsible for Banyana’s failure to qualify for the Olympics after a penalty shootout victory at the Orlando Stadium. But Desiree Ellis says they will not be out for revenge.
JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has lauded her players’ teamwork after the senior women’s national team claimed a comfortable 3-1 win over neighbours Zambia in an international friendly at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After being inactive for over a year since winning the Cosafa Championship title in Gqeberha late in 2019, Banyana returned to action this past weekend, hosting Zambia, who’ll be playing in the Tokyo Olympic Games from July.
The Copper Queens drew first blood with captain and striker Barbra Banda putting her side in the lead with a screamer. Banyana, though, responded as Spanish-based defender Noko Matlou scored a brace before half-time.
The South Africans wrapped up the match in the second half with golden girl Thembi Kgatlana getting on the scoresheet with her second contribution of the game after assisting SD Eibar teammate Matlou with her second, late in the first half.
“With Thembi up-front, I think you have a chance. Not just with her pace but she’s shown her maturity, professionalism and she tried to guide the players on the pitch. Our defence was magnificent today. We always pride ourselves with our defensive shape,” Ellis said.
“We brought in Noxolo Cesane, and she went upfront and she almost scored a magnificent goal for us. So, the beauty of this group is teamwork. It’s teamwork more than anything, and that’s what has gotten us this far as a group.”
Ellis was without the majority of her overseas-based players due to Covid-19, with Eibar duo Kgatlana, Matlou; and Amanda Mthandi, who plays for CD Badajoz – also in Spain, the only three players that were released by their clubs.
Banyana will miss out on this year’s Olympics for their first time since 2012. But they are not sulking, using their friendlies against Zambia and Botswana (tomorrow) to prepare for the Cosafa Championships and Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Botswana were responsible for Banyana’s failure to qualify for the Olympics after a penalty shootout victory at the Orlando Stadium in the qualifiers in September 2019. But Ellis says they will not be out for revenge at Bidvest, instead they’ll look to improve on their last performance.
“It’s never about revenge because you’ll be going there for the wrong reasons and you are not setting up for what it is that you want to do. We are going there to play a game, improve on this performance and hope to give others a chance,” Ellis said.
“The game was very tight and we wanted to make more changes. But we didn’t want changes for the sake of changes but we wanted to give players a transition into the team. And not put them under pressure. Botswana are slightly ahead of us in terms of preparations.”