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By Tshepo Ntsoelengoe

Football Journalist

Ellis rues missed chances after Banyana defeat to Sweden

‘The players showed resilience and bravery,’ said the Banyana mentor.

Desiree Ellis believes Banyana Banyana’s game against Sweden at the Fifa Women’s World Cup would have been very different had her charges utilised their goalscoring opportunities.

READ MORE: Sweden squeeze past brave Banyana

Banyana were beaten 2-1 in their opening Group G match at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Sunday.

Banyana led in the 48th minute through Hildah Magaia’s goal to stun the world’s third-ranked side, but the Swedes managed to level matters in the 66th minute and went on to grab the winning goal late in the game.

‘Resilience and bravery’

Ellis praised her players for the bravery they showed against their more well-regarded opponents and she says people have seen what Banyana are all about following that display.

“We knew that we were going to get chances in transition. If we had taken them and made better decisions in the final third we would be talking something different,” said Ellis.

“But the players showed resilience and bravery. We said people will see what South Africa is all about this time around. And I’m sure people saw a lot of difference compared to 2019.”

The Banyana mentor added that the team has really improved in terms of their players from the last World Cup four years ago in France. And she reckons having a number of players playing at top international leagues in the world is one of the reasons for the team’s growth, while the Hollywoodbets Super League and the Sasol League back home are also helping, despite not being professional leagues.

‘Different team’

“I think between 2019 and 2023 we are a different team, with most of our players playing at good clubs abroad. Our league has gotten better back home. It is not where we want to be because we still have an amateur league back home, but the players have also got better,” said the Banyana coach.

“We have more experience. When we came to the World Cup the first time we didn’t have the experience. So, we are really looking forward to the next games and I’m really proud of the performance. I think the people at home will be rejoicing despite the loss, because of the performance.”

Ellis will be hoping for a better end result in Banyana’s next group game against Argentina on Friday.

The game is key for both sides as Argentina also lost their Group G opener, going down 1-0 to Italy on Monday.

ALSO READ: Banyana hero Magaia likely to play despite painful exit