Two changes for Banyana as they head to US for friendlies

Banyana Banyana will be back in action later this month following their heroics at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The Desiree Ellis-led side made football history by becoming the first South African senior side to make it past the group stages at a World Cup tournament.

South Africa will face the highly ranked United States in their own backyard, in two international friendlies. The two matches will also be the first taste of action for the US after the World Cup. The US is one of five countries to have won a FIFA Women’s World Cup.

They remain the most successful women’s national team in the history of the World Cup, having lifted the trophy four times. Having retained almost the same team that played at the recently concluded World Cup, Banyana are expected to rise to the occasion.

“The expectations never stop; it’s always been there. I think already the expectations getting into the national team is high, and obviously we know we are a results-driven country and you know the fans don’t expect anything less and all I can say is that this team will put in that effort, will put in that performance to possibly get the result that we want,” says Ellis.

The USA went to the World Cup, ranked number one in the world but dropped to third after being eliminated in the round of 16, their worst-ever performance in the global footballing showpiece. Banyana are now ranked 45th in the world, which is their best-ever ranking since readmission.

“They might not have won the world cup but for me they still ranked up there with the best. Every team goes through a little bit of a transition period, and playing at home and after the world cup and weren’t happy so they would want to go out and put up a performance that will really motivate our players to put out a similar performance to get a positive result,” Ellis added. Ellis says the only way for South Africa to close the gap is to establish a fully-fledged professional league at home.

“It’s important that players train at a certain level every day not having to worry about going to work. Making sure that they can train and making sure they concentrate on football itself and having a professional league you also going to attract players from the continent and hopefully the better players. It will also increase the level of the league. I think it’s important that we get that league going,” Ellis elaborates.

The coach has retained the same team that did duty at the world cup, with the exception of captain Refiloe Jane and key midfielder Bambanani Mbane who have both been ruled out due to injuries. These matches will also be used as part of preparations for next month’s Olympic qualifiers.

“We also want to reward you know the players that were at the world cup because they did magnificently and you also want to have that consistency considering that you have a qualifier coming up not so far away,” Ellis explains.

The first match will be played in Cincinnati on the 22nd of this month, with the second match in Chicago two days later. The second international friendly will be used to celebrate the long-serving US superstar, Megan Rapinoe, who is officially retiring from the game of football. Both matches will be shown live on SABC 1, and various other platforms.

Source: eNCA

In other news – Actress Sophie Ndaba opens up on how her kids saved her life

Popular South African actress and businesswoman, Sophie Ndaba opens up on how are children saved her life after she hit rock bottom, financially and healthwise.

Sophie Ndaba

The actress went through some difficult challenges over the past years. At some point, she was rumored to be dead. Read more

Back to top button