BY REGINALD KANYANE
Head coach of the South African Women’s Olympic Football Team, Vera Pauw said she was happy that the loss against New Zealand came just before the start of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Pauw said the game will help to bring the team back to reality.
This was Banyana Banyana’s fourth loss in a row after coming unstuck against Netherlands (2-0 and 1-0) and lost 1-0 against USA.
Pauw said the defeat to New Zealand answered a lot of questions.
“It was not a good performance at all, very chaotic display but it was a good wake-up call for us to push away some of the distractions we encountered leading to the match. We have to get back into our routine of hard work and rest, and that is the only thing we need to do to get back to our best.
“To be honest, we could see it coming and we are glad it happened – now everything has to be back on point for the match against Sweden, otherwise we will have the same result,” said Pauw.
“The match was useful in many ways, in that now we know what we can or cannot do, and it also helped us with the question marks we had around some players. But the truth is, you don’t want a defeat, especially by such a big margin, before you are about to start a tournament – you would like to go there with a win under your belt.”
Pauw has asked for the same gutsy performance that the team displayed against the USA, despite the loss.
“When all is said and done, it is better we lost in our final preparation match than at the start of competition – in that sense, thank you New Zealand for showing us that we have to get our feet back on the ground.
“I hope the players have learnt that you are not a star player with one good display against the USA – which was without doubt a very good game for us despite the loss. We have to produce that performance every other day in a tournament like this. It’s good that we have been woken up,” added Pauw.
Banyana Banyana offered little resistance as they went down 4-1 to New Zealand in an international friendly match played on Thursday at Estadiu Luso Brasileiro in Rio de Janeiro.
New Zealand’s goals came from Hannah Wilkinson, Amber Hearn, Annalie Longo and Sarah Gregarius while South Africa replied through Jermaine Seoposenwe.
The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana squad is left with a few days to rectify their mistakes – they take on Sweden in the opening match of the Games. But Pauw is confident ahead of that all-important clash.
“What is very clear is that we have to learn from this defeat and use it in our favour, and I know we will do everything we can to ensure we get a positive result against Sweden, I believe we will be ready,” said Pauw.