Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis said she was satisfied with her team’s performance in their 2-0 defeat to hosts Japan on Sunday, 10 November in Fukuoka.
Having travelled for two days and with only two days to prepare for the tough friendly match, Ellis said she took a lot of positives from this encounter.
“I felt that after being dormant for two months that we needed to be on top of our game and I think for the first 20 minutes we showed our intent, we were compact and organised but it takes that one moment to make a mistake and get punished,” she reflected on two errors that led to Japan’s two goals.
“We spoke of minimising our mistakes and there was one moment where we were not switched on and we got punished. But overall, we played our type of football and at times I thought we troubled the Japanese defence. I also thought when Thembi (Kgatlana) broke, we didn’t have enough support to her.
“The support came later but we could not get enough support to her and again later in the first half, the critical moment when we failed to pick up the opponent, made another mistake and got punished,” she reflected.
“I think the Japanese fans will go away and say it was a good game, this is a good side and as you saw, we play the similar way they play. They are slightly ahead of us but I am happy with the performance but obviously not the result.”
Ellis paid tribute to versatile Leandra Smeda who got her 100th cap in this friendly international encounter.
“I would also like to congratulate Leandra Smeda for her 100th cap, she is the 9th Banyana Banyana player to achieve this feat.”
Ellis said the travel and time difference somehow affected the team as well.
“The long travel really affected our preparations and even as we speak now, the difference in time zones means some of our players have struggled to sleep but we had a good session to shake off that. We also sent out programmes to the players before the camp and that helps; there was no time to test our physical condition in such short space of time. We only had two days here and I am satisfied with the performance,” added Ellis.
The coach said she was worried that her players would tire during the second half but if anything, they upped their game.
“We were worried of the second half but instead the girls never showed any signs of fatigue and they played as a unit. Japan were good in closing us down quickly and at times we lost the ball easily as we hurried our build ups upfront. We needed not just rush the balls upfront but do so methodically.”
Meanwhile, Smeda said the 100th cap was a dream come true for her in Banyana Banyana colours.
“It was a good game and we played well. We knew it was going to be tough. We created some chances but we made some mistakes and we got punished. They coach had warned us that we make a mistake against Japan, we will pay the price and that is what happened.
But for me personally, it was great to get my 100th cap against Japan and I enjoyed the game,” she said.