Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis admits that losing to the USA was not ideal, however she was happy to see the African champions hold their own against the four-time world champions in their first international friendly on Friday, especially in the opening 30 minutes of the game.
Banyana lost 3-0 to the Americans in the first of two friendlies, with goals coming in the first half and two of them from set-pieces.
Ellis noted new combinations brought on by the unavailability of certain players and lapse in concentration as some of the challenges for Banyana during the clash.
She also called her charges’ performance brave adding that she was pleased that there were chances created by Banyana and to see improvements in areas such transition in attack.
“We always speak about picking up. I think if you look at the first goal we didn’t pick up, you look at the second goal, marking on the wrong side and the second goal came very quickly after the first goal,” said Ellis after the game.
“Even the third one we didn’t pick up and those are moments, maybe lapses of concentration. We know it’s only maybe the first time really that Bongeka and Tiisetso played together as a pairing. They played together some minutes not actually because Bongeka played as a center-mid but they played together not for a long while. It takes a little while to gel but I thought the first 30 minutes we were really, really good.”
Ellis, though, felt that overall her side gave the US a good opposition, even though the Americans showed their quality in finishing.
“As I said lapses of concentration, still we created chances here and there tried to fix it at half-time, came out looking a little bit better, still created a couple of chances,” she added
“Yes they had chances too because they always had chances but I thought we ended the game off really well.
“Like I said, not the result we wanted but there are certain things that we were looking at, how we transition to attack and we did that very well.
“I thought defensively we could have been a little bit better organised and that’s starting from upfront where we need to close the lines, where we need to defend from up top, where we need to become a little bit compact in the middle of the park.
“Sometimes we left the number six the sitter open to be able to play. We tried to fix that as well but it’s a brave performance by the players.
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“For that a big congratulations to the players for that brave performance considering the personnel we don’t have. So I was really happy especially that first 30 minutes we were really, really good but the US we said that they were a fantastic side.
“We said they maybe number three in the world but they are still up there with the best. In the finishing department they showed their quality.
“We challenged them a little bit defensively which we always will with the pace of Thembi with Jermaine etc.”
The two sides meet in the second friendly in Chicago on Sunday night.