A slow start in their international fixture against Serbia saw the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana go down 2-3 on Monday, 10 April 2023.
Three quick goals in the first 22 minutes was all the home side needed to walk away with victory against the African champions at the Sports Centre of the Serbia Football Association in Stara Pazova, Serbia.
The Eastern Europeans took the lead nine minutes into the encounter through Violeta Slovic, before Milica Mijatovic increased the advantage in the 17th minute. It seemed like it was game, set and match five minutes later when Nevena Damnjanovic made it 3-0.
But after a slow start, the visitors found their feet and fought back with everything they had, with South Korea-based Hilda Magaia pulling one back on the half hour mark to trail 1-3 at the break.
The South Africans put up a brave fight in the second half, with Mexico-based Jermaine Seoposenwe netting the visitors’ second goal in the 79th minute.
However much they tried, the third proved elusive.
Great getting on the scoresheet, disappointed to have missed the first chance in the first half but that’s football. We learn from our mistakes and get opportunities to rectify them.
It’s definitely not the result we had hoped for, but we have to keep going!! 🇿🇦🙏🏾🙌🏾 https://t.co/ZlCcCtBa3K
— Jermaine Seoposenwe (@jermaine109) April 10, 2023
“Great getting on the scoresheet, disappointed to have missed the first chance in the first half but that’s football. We learn from our mistakes and get opportunities to rectify them. It’s definitely not the result we had hoped for, but we have to keep going,” said Seoposenwe on her twitter page.
The defeat left head coach Desiree Ellis and her technical team a little concerned about some aspects of the game.
“The first 15 minutes when they got all those set-pieces and corners we didn’t organize very well. I thought we could have dealt better with the second and third goal set-pieces, but after that I think we were in complete control. We got one or two chances that we didn’t take, then we got another one and took it, going into half time at three-one. But prior to that, I thought we were in control and dealt with everything they threw at us,” said Ellis.
“When we came out for the second half we were even better and kept the intensity up, we kept rotating the ball very quickly – we just couldn’t get that final one (third goal). I thought our transitions could have been a bit better, but what we worked on, it’s exciting and encouraging to see that a lot of that came together.”
This was Banyana Banyana’s sixth match of preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand from 20 July to 20 August.
The clash also brought out a lot of positivity.
“Of course, not the result we wanted, but there are couple of boxes we can tick. I felt defensively we were very solid. I think if we had taken those half chances in the first half, I think we might have had a different result. But with regards to the performance, I think we not only showed a lot of character but also showed that we could play. We created opportunities, we put them on the back foot and that for us was really important to see the players absorb what we trained for the last two weeks and put that into practice. And for that we were very happy,” added the Banyana Banyana mentor.
“The physicality that they brought was really something that we were looking for, and I think that we handled that well – that’s one of the big boxes we can tick because the whole of the last of 25 minutes (of the first half) and the entire the second half we didn’t have one set piece against us. We knew they were going to have a lot of movement and in the beginning, we didn’t deal well with that, but we tightened up and we then forced them to play those long balls that we could really deal with and won the second balls.”
In getting ready for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup, the African champions have now played two top 10-ranked nations (Brazil – 9th & Australia 10th); and three countries in the top 50 bracket (Serbia 35th , Slovenia 40th & Uzbekistan 50th).
BANYANA BANYANA PREPARATORY FIXTURES:
vs Brazil: 0 – 3
vs Brazil: 0 – 6
vs Australia: 1 – 4
vs Uzbekistan: 3 – 0
vs Slovenia: 1 – 1
vs Serbia: 2 – 3
Banyana Banyana won one match, beating Uzbekistan 3-0, drew 1-1 against Slovenia and lost four fixtures – 0-3 and 0-6 to South American champions Brazil, went down 1-4 to Australia and 2-3 to Serbia.
They were not able to score in two matches, but found the back of the net in the other four – scoring seven and conceding 17.
“Obviously there’s still some stuff to work on because it’s a process, and we want to be at our absolute best at the World Cup. Some of the things we’ve worked on were really evident today (against Serbia), but it still needs to get a bit better and with a lot more time to work in camp we will definitely be better and ready for the World Cup and be at our absolute best for the tournament,” concluded the three-time African Woman Coach of the Year.
The squad is expected back home in South Africa on Wednesday morning (12 April 2023) at 09h50.
By Matlhomola Morake for centrecircle.com and relayed by kick442.com as an official media partner