Ellis: Banyana must improve by 40%

Banyana went down to the world's 10th-ranked team via a brace from Loreta Kullashi and own goal from Bambani Mbane at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday.

Ellis believes her side must improve their performance by “40 percent” if they hope to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

“We take a lot of positives from this exercise and we are the first to admit that we have to raise our level a little bit more to get to their level. This was a fantastic performance from the players, but it is not the result we wanted. We will continue to work hard towards the bigger picture, which is the qualification of the 2019 FIFA World Cup. This match was the start of that process, so we are happy with the output but not the result,” said Ellis.

“Once we made the changes – because we felt we needed to give other players a chance – there was hardly any balance. Today was not just about the result but also giving players an opportunity, and test them at the level they have never been in. Some fell short, but others raised their hands and that what this friendly was all about. Overall I cannot complain, I am really proud of the players because we held our own.

“We are very critical of ourselves, and we know we made a lot of errors and that is something we need to work on. And for us to improve more, we have to play games like these. I think we need to improve our performance by about 40 percent to qualify for the World Cup. There were times when I felt we had to put the ball on the ground more, because in the moments when we did that, we really played well. The long ball does not work for us. All we can do is continue working hard.”

This was the first time Banyana played in the Mother City.

“We had a very magnificent crowd and a wonderful stay in Cape Town. The week leading up to this match was just awesome with so much media coverage. We hope we can come back here again,” added the former Banyana captain.

“To play in this magnificent stadium was just a wow for us. I played on this pitch only for 10 minutes during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, so I know how it feels like. I think it must have been a dream come true for most players, and I always say if you cannot play on this pitch, you cannot play anywhere else. We were well received and everyone made us feel welcome. It was exciting to be in Cape Town.”

Banyana now have to shift their focus to the annual Cyprus Women’s Cup, taking place from 26 February to 7 March.

The competition has been held since 2008, and Switzerland are the current champions.

Banyana will be making their sixth appearance – 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 - at the event, which features 12 women’s national teams.

This year they have been drawn in Group C alongside Hungary, Slovakia and Trinidad and Tobago.

South Africa will face Slovakia in their opening match to be played on Wednesday, 28 February. Kick-off is at 13h00.

The second match will see Banyana take on Hungary on Friday, 2 March at 18h00.

In the last group stage clash, South Africa will lock horns with Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, 5 March at 13h00.