South Africa ready for ‘final’ against Argentina

Banyana Banyana coach Des Ellis says her side are ready for Friday’s must-win Women’s World Cup clash against Argentina, and that they will take plenty of positives from their late 2-1 loss to Sweden.

South Africa likely need vidtory to have a chance of reaching the round of 16, and would also make history as they seek a first ever win at the global finals.

On the face of it this is their best chance, though Ellis is taking nothing for granted.

“After such a magnificent performance against Sweden, we take a lot of positives from that, we were defensively very sound until the end, but also created numerous opportunities,” Ellis said.

“It is a must win against Argentina, but we also need to score goals to give us a realistic chance of going through (to the round of 16). We have worked on how we can be better in the final third, we are always going to create chances, so we have worked on our finishing.

“When players are in a better position, we have to make sure we get to them, which is not always the case because as a striker you want to score.”

She says they have studied Argentina and have the right plan to counter them. It will all come down to execution on the day.

“We know a lot about Argentina, we saw in the game against Italy (won 1-0 by the European side) it was very physical. So obviously we have to move the ball around quicker.

They do have players that are very skillful, but we know that a lot of our goals are scored on the counterattack, that is our strength. If we can get that right, we will score goals.

The first thing is not to concede, in some games we have conceded early leading up to the World Cup, so we want to stay compact for the first 15 minutes.

“We have worked a lot on what we are good at, but also not good at, which is defending without the ball and I thought against Sweden we did that very well.

It will not be easy, Argentina are a good side, but if we play our own game, create the chances and put them away, we will get a positive result.

Ellis knows that another defeat will almost certainly rule Banyana out of a knockout round place.

It is a game we must win. It is our ‘final’ and we can’t look any further than that game, because everything else does not matter at the moment. We have got a plan, and we have to execute that plan to get the right result,” she says.

“This team has matured so much in the last few years and got so much better mentally as well. They have fought through battles and challenges. We were brave and courageous (against Sweden), and there is more that people haven’t seen.

“The chances we create, we have to be a bit more clinical than in the last game and then things will come right.”