We will treat the game against Italy like a final – Coach Desiree Ellis

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis believes the game against Italy will be like a final for Banyana Banyana as her charges need to win to progress to the round of 16 in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The African Champions suffered a defeat in their opening game against Sweden and then played a 2-2 draw against Argentina in their second game. Nothing but a victory will get the Sasol-sponsored side through to the next round when they face the Italians on Wednesday 2 August at the Wellington Regional Stadium (kick off 9h00 SA time).

Italy, who are ranked 16th in the world, will come into this crunch encounter on the back of a 5-0 defeat to Sweden and Ellis admitted that their opponents will be wounded.

“We know it’s going to be a difficult game, they are going to have to protect what they have and we have to come for the three points. It is do or die, nothing less than victory. We have really worked hard on a lot in the last couple of days, how we can hurt them. We can’t share that plan but we have worked on something that we feel can get us the results,” said Ellis.

“We also review, we have a post-match session after every match on what we could have done better, and we work on that a lot in training. Like I said, you can work on it at training and sometimes it is organizational that does not work on the day, in moments where we are not organized. But we have to constantly work on that all the time to give them the opportunity to do better,” shared Ellis. 

Speaking on the conversation that they are having as players, Hildah Magaia admitted that they are of the same mindset as the coach and winning against Italy is top priority. “This is our last group stage match and obviously it is so important, so our talks as players are the same as the coaches. It’s about sharing information and doing what we can do to become victorious in the game,” said Magaia. 

“We wish Banyana Banyana the best of luck for their final group stages match against Italy. We have seen how the team played in the last two games – scoring goals and keeping the energy until the last minute of the match. Sasol has full faith that the African Champions will stay on course and continue to make South Africa proud as they pursue a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup,” said Nozipho Mbatha, Sasol Senior Manager for Group Brand and Sponsorships.

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