After more than three weeks in the local preparation and selection camp, the whole South African senior women’s team reunited on July 7 in New Zealand for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The 'Banyana Banyana' are still searching for their first win at the showpiece event following their 2019 debut. Coach Ellis is well aware.
“We are not naive. But when you go to a tournament, you want to do well. I think the first game is the most important. We have to get a good start and get a positive result," the CAF female coach of the year said.
"At present, I said we need to get out of the group stages. So we are working towards that. We know it’s not going to be easy. But we have great belief in the players. We have great belief in the team. And we are working towards that."
"We are not only going there just as a representative from Africa, but we are going there as the African champions. I think that puts a little bit more pressure on everyone.
The pressure is indeed high. Following a historical AFCON victory, the squad had a dismal run, winning only three of its subsequent nine matches.
"I mean we cannot compare CAF to the European teams. It's a totally different ball game. Yes we won AFCON and after that there were a couple of games right after that. I think fatigue did kicked in a little bit. But there's no excuses. We have to be better as a team," Kaylin Swart, South Africa & JVW FC goalkeeper said.
"I think that's why we've been working so much on our defensive side of the game just so we know when we get to the World Cup, we will be solid enough to defend these teams that we are going to play."
The African champions will be in Group G where they will play Sweden, Argentina and Italy for the first time.
The reigning African Champions, who are currently ranked at 54 in the latest FIFA rankings, will face 36th-ranked Costa Rica on Saturday, 15 July 2023 in Christchurch, New Zealand in what will be their final friendly match before the start of the tournament on 20 July 2023.