S’Africa  Coach Laments  how Falcons Punctured Her Olympic Dream

Femi Solaja  with agency report

Head Coach of the South African women’s national team, Desiree Ellis, is yet to come to terms with the reality of her wards, Banyana Banyana’s inability to qualify to play in summer Olympic Games in Paris.

With two previous appearances in their kitty, the Banyana Banyana were aiming to return to the Olympics after missing the 2020 edition in Tokyo. 

And having scored in eight consecutive competitive games since losing to the Netherlands at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the South Africans were confident of overcoming the Nigerian obstacle..

However, the Super Falcons kept the Banyana attack at bay to record a slim 1-0 victory in the first leg in Abuja last Friday.

Nigeria, who conceded six goals in their two most recent games against the Banyana Banyana, made it two straight clean sheets against South Africa following a goalless draw in the return fixture on Tuesday in Pretoria. 

With a 1-0 aggregate win, Nigeria advanced to the 2024 Olympics in Paris while South Africa were left to rue their loss.

Coach Ellis attributed Banyana Banyana loss to their inability to break down the Super Falcons’ defence and get at least a goal past goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.

“We knew that coming into this game, we needed to score,” Ellis said after the encounter in Pretoria.

“We also knew that we needed to score as early as possible because the longer the game went on, the more desperate we would become.

“We didn’t start well. We changed the formation slightly because we needed to score, and we went with three up front. They got the chance early on, and that’s the only opportunity they got in the half.

“But we didn’t go forward as much as we wanted in the first half. We made a couple of changes in the second half and threw the kitchen sink at them. Unfortunately, that elusive goal didn’t go in.

“And for that, we are very disappointed. We also know the fans are disappointed, but I think we can be very proud of this team. They gave it their best shot.”

With South Africa out, Nigeria advanced to the Olympics, where they have been placed in Group C to face world champions Spain, Brazil, and Japan.

16 April.

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