Ellis worried about Banyana’s mental strength ahead of Spain opener

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Trounced 7-2 by Norway in their final World Cup preparation encounter last night, Banyana Banyana players’ mental strength will be heavily tested as they go into their maiden World Cup in five days.

Banyana, who will open their account with a clash against Spain on Saturday, found themselves stuck in traffic on their way to the stadium, as a result halting kick-off of the game with a further hour. Coach Desiree Ellis believes that hugely affected her girls mentally.

Though they did show better organisation‚ spirit and potency in front of goal in the second half, Banyana conceded four goals in the opening 20 minutes‚ continuing their recent trend of starting games poorly.

Ellis made 11 changes from the team that played against the USA in California last month.

Captain Janine Van Wyk, Mamello Makhabane, Leandra Smeda and goalkeeper Kaylin Swart all sat out with niggling injuries.

Overseas based trio of Ode Fulutudilu, Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo started the game and Bongeka Gamede came on in the second half for her debut appearance.

The defeat to Norway means Banyana have now gone 10 preparation games without a win‚ losing six and drawing four of those.

They started with two friendlies against Sweden and the Netherlands in Cape Town back in January, they took part in the Cyprus Women’s Cup where they faced Finland twice, Korea DPR and Czech Republic.

Soon after that, they hosted fellow World Cup debutants Jamaica in Durban before heading to America where they lost 3-0 to the reigning  champions. Ellis admits it’s a big concern.

Ranked 48th in the FIFA rankings, Banyana are the lowest-ranked side in their pool. Germany are ranked second behind world champions USA while China are 16th, three places behind Spain.

They will play Spain in Le Havre on Saturday followed by a fixture against China PR in Paris on the 13th of June and four days later against Germany in Montpellier on the 17th. – Report by Tumi Gabonamong