Banyana Banyana coach, Desiree Ellis is hoping that her players will be sharper in next Tuesday’s international friendly against the Netherlands as compared to the previous three matches.
Although the local players are currently in their last phase of pre-season training, Ellis is encouraged that the overseas contingent has begun their league campaigns.
Ellis is using the friendly as part of the team’s preparation for the upcoming Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
The Dutch come highly rated as a test for Banyana Banyana ahead of the continental tournament. They are ranked fifth in the world and are currently playing World Cup qualifiers. Although there are a couple of changes in the Netherlands team that last played against Banyana in 2019, they are not a closed book. It will be a third meeting between the two sides in six years and perhaps a preferred opponent as preparation begins for Banyana Banyana.
“Technically, they are a good side they move the ball around they have a top striker who will be a challenge for our defenders. They play with wing play so all the things we speak about cutting out the crosses clearing the balls picking up the players, their defence is compact, very strong it will be for our players to exploit certain things we have picked up. Our wing has to be better our combination play has to be better, our midfield has to be organised,” Banyana Banyana coach explains.
The match against the Netherlands will be an opportunity for Ellis to measure her players against tough opposition with just less than three months remaining before the start of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
In their recent outings, most Banyana Banyana players had just begun their pre-season with their respective clubs. Their fitness levels were not satisfactory. The situation is different this time, although the domestic women’s league has not resumed.
“It will definitely be an added advantage going into the Netherlands game, we know we will be linking up with overseas-based players and most of them are in season and I think the mixture of the international based players and local-based players will feed off good from each other,” says Banyana Banyana player Thalea Smidt.
Although the players will be in better shape, Ellis hopes that the friendly will highlight the shortcomings of her team. It’s also an ideal test for the players ahead of the continental tournament.
“This is an opportunity to test what we still need to work on moving forward because a top-ranked team like the Netherlands will test us in all capacities.”
Banyana Banyana will depart for the Netherlands on Friday.