Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw
Thursday Aug 04, 2016. 10:32
Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw said her team is improving after suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to Sweden in their opening Olympic Games match in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
South Africa put up a brave display against a strong Swedish side and looked set to come away with a point until goalkeeper Roxanne Barker made a costly error in the 75th minute which allowed the Europeans to claim the only goal of the game.
Read: SOUTH AFRICA WOMEN GO DOWN IN OLYMPIC OPENER
Pauw was left to rue that mistake by the goalkeeper but was also proud of her side for the way they battled against taller, stronger players who have far more professional experience to call upon.
“That one little mistake cost us,” Pauw told reporters after the match, as quoted by Kick Off. “The more experienced teams will punish you when you make a little mistake.
“We should be going forward more, making more in our attacks and creating more chances, but these are the players we have got at the moment so I can’t ask for more than they are giving.”
Banyana have recently managed narrow 1-0 losses against strong sides such as USA and the Netherlands and Pauw feels that this defeat – by the same margin – once again shows that her team is getting closer to the top level of women’s football.
“We have had narrow defeats to the likes of the United States and the Netherlands and this result again shows that we’re getting closer,” Pauw said.
“I told the players at half-time that they were playing too many long balls into the space in the Swedish half. There was a lot of space there and I asked for us to get forward quicker so that we could capitalise on that.
“This has been an incredible journey for us and the improvement we are showing is giving us a really good chance to start getting results against these higher-ranked sides.
“There is a tremendous energy in the squad and what we are really lacking is goal-scoring opportunities.
“But when you have a look at where we’ve come from to where we are now, I’m sure you can see the tremendous growth in our football. We showed it again today. We are getting closer.”
Banyana Banyana's next Olympic clash sees them face China in Rio on Saturday.