South Africa coach Desiree Ellis was delighted with her side’s stunning 4-2 victory over hosts Nigeria at the Aisha Buhari Cup on Tuesday, but says the side have to now prove they can beat the best on the continent on a consistent basis.
The victory followed an excellent 3-0 win over Ghana on Friday as Banyana Banyana completed a fruitful trip to West Africa, where they had some of their top stars back in the team for the first time in almost two years as the Covid-19 pandemic had brought a virtual halt to their programme.
Banyana were 3-0 up at halftime, but then had to weather a storm early in the second period as Nigeria scored two quick goals. But Ellis’ side were able to see out the game and add a fourth goal.
“We were in control for most the game, we played at the tempo we wanted to and also made them play at the tempo we wanted them to play,” Ellis said. “We controlled all aspects of the game.
“Into the second half, we discussed they would come, we needed to concentrate and make we put our foot on the ball, but we didn’t do that. We tried to calm it, the two [Nigeria] goals came quickly – we made errors – and we played the way we should not have.
“But the players showed a lot of confidence and character to take the game back, we made some positional and tactical changes. Then it all came together again. We managed the game very well.
“The victory is not just for us here in Nigeria, it is for everyone back home in South Africa who have contributed to women’s football. The coaches that have put in the hard work with the players.
“We wanted to test ourselves, but we need to now be consistent in what we do. Nigeria have been consistent [in winning] over a number of years and we mustn’t forget they will be back.
“They have proven over a number of years they are the best on the continent and to be put in that same bracket we need to be consistent against the better teams.”
A largely home-based Banyana squad will now compete at the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay from September 28-October 9, where they will look to retain their title for the fifth year in a row.
They will then face Mozambique in the first round of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next month.