Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has been hard at work in preparation for the international friendly against Japan on 10 November at the Kitakyushu Stadium in Fukuoka.
The match will be the second between the two sides after they drew 0-0 in the group stages of the London Olympic Games in 2012.
Banyana will be keen to put in a good performance after their recent upset at the hands of Botswana in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers.
Ellis revealed that she’s been hard at work, both in analysing the opposition and in prepping her team for the trip to Asia.
“We are looking at the most recent games of Japan to come up with a game plan,” she said.
“I am attending a lot of matches, especially the SAFA Women’s National League, where I am constantly monitoring Banyana Banyana players, and also assessing those we have identified to can add value to the team.
“Along with the fitness trainer and assistant coach, we are also already working on a training program to give to the core group of players as a few of the overseas-based players are already back home.
“This will help a great deal in keeping their fitness levels up so they don’t have to start afresh when they come to the national team camp. The good thing is that the bulk of the squad are active on a weekly basis and that gives us comfort,” added the former Banyana Banyana striker.
Ellis has also recently been in Milan, Italy, where she partook in a two-day FIFA Football Conference – which focused on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“This conference was a real eye-opener and I am glad I went. I learnt so much from everyone who was there and took pointers for future use. This was a very informative gathering where every speaker just had something different to say,” she revealed.
“This was a gathering to exchange ideas on moving women’s football forward and I believe with the input that was made at the conference, this will make national teams around the world grow – and in return, the next FIFA Women’s World Cup will be even bigger and better.”
The trip to Italy also enabled the Banyana coach to see national team vice-captain Refiloe Jane in action for her new club, AC Milan.
“This was incredible and a privilege that I also got the opportunity to go watch Fifi at AC Milan when they played Oribico. I was encouraged by her performance in the midfield and she was key in the way they played by trying to switch play and playing forward as early and often as possible,” said Ellis.
“She has already become a huge crowd favourite and there was even a song sung by a section of the crowd, and when she was replaced late in the second half, she got a standing ovation.”
The squad to face Japan is expected to be announced within the next fortnight.
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo