Journalism in the service of society

Aisha Buhari Cup: Coach Ellis explains how South Africa outsmarted Super Falcons

SOUTH AFRICA head coach Desiree Ellis has given details of how she and her crew plotted the 4-2 victory over Nigeria in the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament.

Banyana Banyana brilliantly dismantled the African champions on Tuesday in Lagos, winning the final match of the Aisha Buhari Cup 4-2, a scoreline that flattered the Super Falcons.

South Africa completely outclassed Nigeria in the first half and deservedly took a 3-0 lead into half-time.

The Super Falcons fought back briefly and pulled it back to 3-2 with Vivian Ikechukwu’s superb brace early in the second half, but Banyana added the fourth late on to win the tournament.

“We have got footage of them (Nigeria) playing at the Turkish Women’s Cup, different positions, playing in the Summer Series, in different positions. We also watched the game against Mali and we analyzed them really well. Although a few people take analysis for granted, it has helped us,” Ellis told CAF’s website.

“So we made sure the players understood what they were up against and made sure our plans were executed today (Tuesday).”

Former South Africa international Ellis admitted that her team lost their way briefly in the second half as Nigeria threatened to pull level.

“We are happy with this tournament because we always want to test ourselves against the best,” she said in her post-match interview.

“We went toe to toe with Nigeria and prevailed but we didn’t start the second half well. We didn’t stick with the plan and you can’t do that against a team as good as Nigeria.”

Ellis gave an insight into how her team rode the early second-half storm to stay on course.

“We were not sure about what happened for the first 10 minutes, because it wasn’t in the plan,” she added to CAF.

“I know a lot of people expected us to play the long ball, but we wanted to be unpredictable and made sure that we control the tempo of the game. By doing that, we almost made Nigeria play the way we wanted them to play, except for those 10 minutes when they bombarded us to make silly mistakes.

“But the team showed a lot of character and confidence, and when we were in control of the ball, we managed the game really well and when we were under pressure, we always knew we would get another chance. Our counter-attack was clinical and resulted into the penalty and that was the game itself.

“But Nigeria are fantastic team, so we just stayed on top of the game for the full 90 minutes, because we almost gave it away within those 10 minutes, but the players were just fantastic.”

Ellis explained further, saying: “We played two different formations in the game, but we felt that this young lady (Refiloe Jane) took control of the game in the centre, they (Nigeria) changed their formation and we changed ours too.

“We only needed to controll the pace of the game, and in the last 15 minutes of the match, we kept possession of the ball, we didn’t rush. So this team is growing in leaps and bounds.”

South Africa have now won two of their last three meetings against Nigeria, including a 1-0 group stage win at the 2018 Women’s AFCON but Ellis insists there is room for improvement.

“I think one victory doesn’t make you the best team, especially a victory against a team as Nigeria, who have consistently over the years shown they are one of the top teams,” she noted.

“We can also be consistent in beating big teams and getting those victories, but we must also grow. Talking about AFCON, it is our ambition to win it; we came close to it in 2018.

“Also, this victory shows to us that we are capable, but we have to be consistent in winning. You saw what happened coming from the 2019 Women’s World Cup, losing to Botswana in the Olympics qualifiers. So, we are not there. Yes, we won this Cup but we are not the best yet, I think the Women’s AFCON would change it.”

Comments are closed.

Naija Times