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Ellis relishes chance for Banyana to test themselves against giants Brazil

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis during a press conference at Orlando Stadium on September 1 2022.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis during a press conference at Orlando Stadium on September 1 2022.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis wants her charges to play two international friendlies against South American champions Brazil as if they're playing official matches.

Banyana, who won this year's Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon), meet ninth-ranked Brazil at Soweto's Orlando Stadium on Friday (6pm) and Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday (6pm). 

Banyana matches are normally free, but fans attending these games will pay R50.

Brazil were runners-up in the 2007 Fifa Women's World Cup and are giants in South America, where they've won the Copa America Femenina eight times, including this year, when they defeated hosts Colombia 1-0 on July 30.

Banyana, who played in their maiden Women's World Cup in France in 2019, won their continental title in July, beating hosts Morocco 2-1.

Both teams will compete in the World Cup, jointly hosted by Austria and New Zealand in July and August next year.

“No, we don't to take this match as just another friendly,” Ellis said at Orlando Stadium on Thursday.

“This is an opportunity for players to test themselves. I said to the players yesterday, 'Yes, it's a friendly, but it's a preparation for the World Cup'. It's a year before the World Cup, but we need to make sure that when we have these programmes we utilise them. 

“We need to move with the intensity of the game because if we don't we're going to be left behind. The intensity is going to be so much higher and the players are under no illusions of what is awaiting them at the World Cup. With every World Cup there's improvement and we have to improve.”

Ellis is grateful for Banyana's opportunity to play such a highly ranked team.

“To get a match so soon after Wafcon and get a top team like Brazil, it's a big thank you to Safa [the SA Football Association] and Sasol [Banyana's sponsors]. They said they would get us preparation, but wow, what a start. We're going to play as many players as possible, even though it's a friendly.

“What's the use of bringing the squad if you don't test them, because you want to see who you'd want to take going forward. The players did well at Wafcon, but I said to them the World Cup is so much higher [in level].

“We'll have to be better in everything — every player has to be 10% better and there are things we want to work at.

“Teams like Brazil are going to put us under severe pressure and test us. This is where our team aspect will come to the fore and this is where the individual will have that platform to shine.

“We have to learn to play under pressure and be calm under pressure. It will come with playing teams like this right from the beginning.”


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