Desiree Ellis to shuffle her Banyana Banyana pack against Sweden
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is to shuffle her pack and give a chance to her broader squad in the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge clash against Sweden at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday night.
Ellis is hoping to test more players ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in June and will likely ring the changes from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands at the same venue‚ where Banyana overcame a slow start to impress against the European champions.
That performance was a vast improvement on when Banyana met Sweden 12 months ago and were comfortably beaten 3-0.
“We made a lot of big steps in the game against Netherlands if you compare to our performance against Sweden last year‚” Ellis said.
"We have a very short turnaround and that will be a challenge for the players. Every game you go into you want to win‚ but you also look at the performance. Sweden are a quality team‚ we have played against them on a few occasions‚ so we know what to expect.
"We are also looking at giving a few players an opportunity.
"These two games and the Cyprus Cup [in March] will be the last time to look at players and if you don't test them‚ how are you to know if they can play at this level?"
Midfielder Busisiwe Ndimeni is definitely out with a calf problem and captain Janine van Wyk a doubt with a groin niggle that forced her out of the Netherlands clash early in the second half.
Ellis says Van Wyk will not be risked with the World Cup in mind‚ and adds that the rest of the squad are all fit and eager to get on the pitch.
"Players want to play‚ we have got a fantastic medical team and everybody trained yesterday.
“We want to test some players that didn't play against Netherlands‚ you don't know what will happen at the World Cup‚ you could have three or four injuries and then have players who have not been tested at this level.
"That is why these games are so crucial because this is the level we will face at the World Cup.”
Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson says they have enjoyed their return to Cape Town for warm weather training‚ and adds it is vital preparation with some of his players having not been in action since October.
"The season is just starting for us‚ not just the national team‚ but also club games‚ the players based in Sweden last played in October so it is a very important for us‚” Gerhardsson says.
He cautions that he has brought a better squad to Cape Town this time round.
"We have a better team than last year‚ you can see that not just in the results but also the performance. Everything is good in the team and we are looking forward to the game.”
Gerhardsson says tackling Banyana’s pace and ability to get in behind the defence will be the key to success for his team.
"They have very speedy players and play well on transition. When we played them last year‚ we had recently played Croatia‚ Hungary and France‚ and it was the first time that anybody had got in behind our backline.
"That is a very big quality and we are looking to do that also! That is a quality that allows you to win games. It is something we must stop.”
The Swedes were at the Cape Town Stadium to watch Saturday’s match and are hoping for a similar impressive turnout from fans.
“Hopefully many people come out. It was very noisy‚ but we like it!”