Wednesday Sep 04, 2019. 11:00
South Africa will have to pick up the pieces and plot a way forward after their shock penalty shoot-out loss to Botswana in the 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers on Tuesday.
The tie finished 0-0 after two legs, which included extra-time at the Orlando Stadium in the second fixture, before Botswana held their nerve in the shoot-out to advance via a 3-2 scoreline.
The heady days of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and appearances at the last two Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016, now seem a long way off for Banyana Banyana, who may find themselves at a crossroads as they begin a new cycle towards the 2023 World Cup.
“We will sit down and have a look at the way forward. We have to lift the players they are all disappointed,” coach Desiree Ellis said.
“Football is like that, you have your ups and your downs and this is very definitely down moment for us. But you have to show your character, we have to take care of each other at this moment and look forward.”
Ellis bemoaned her side’s poor finishing as they dominated both legs in terms of possession and chances, but could not beat Botswana goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija.
“We had so many chances and you cannot even score one …” Ellis said. “The penalty shoot-out is always a lottery, it is disappointing for all us. We have spoken in the past about chances that we needed take and it seemed too easy to miss them. It is just not a good day for us.
“In this game alone we could have been 4-0 or 5-0 up at halftime. We had more chances in this game than we had in Botswana. They came with the plan to frustrate us, yet we still opened them up enough to create the chances.
“When you have the goal gaping and you don’t put the ball in the back the net. You hit the post, you go into a penalty shoot-out and you don’t do well in the shoot-out either. It is a disaster.”
Ellis maintains her side did not take Botswana, a team they defeated 9-0 a few years ago, lightly, despite the fact that they failed to call on Chinese-based CAF African Women’s Footballer of the Year Thembi Kgatlana and her classy midfielder compatriot Linda Motlhalo.
“We never took anything for granted, we worked hard on our finishing, combination play and the defensive side. Today we created more chances than I can ever remember and it is disappointing that we did not put one in the net and that is the result of us being out.
“We have been working on our finishing. It comes with confidence and players working outside of camp.
“Camp is a week and we have to prepare a team in all aspects of the game, so coaches out there [at clubs] have to also help us in doing finishing, because sometimes in the [domestic] SASOL League it becomes so easy to score, because nobody challenges you and you are not put under pressure.
“I don’t think it is just a problem Banyana Banyana, it is a problem in all our national teams and the league also, where our leading scorer has 12 goals. It is something we really need to fix.”