Vera Pauw, head coach of the Sasol-sponsored South African Senior Women's National team believes the friendly international against Zimbabwe was a good starting point towards getting the team where she wants them to be ahead of the CAF African Women's Championships in October.
Banyana Banyana recovered from an early setback where they found themselves 2-0 down in the opening minutes. The hosts fought back to secure a 2-2 draw against Zimbabwe at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday (12 April 2014).
Pauw awarded four new caps to defenders, Nelisiwe Mchunu, Letago Madiba and strikers Ode Fulutudilu and Lebogang Ramelepe as she looked to try out different combinations.
The Zimbabwe encounter was the first assignment for Pauw who has been assigned the task of leading Banyana Banyana to the ninth edition of the CAF African Women's Championships (AWC). Three top teams from the AWC will progress to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada.
"It was difficult for the girls and we did not press them in crucial moments of the game. They struggled defensively in the first half and as I have told them, in any international game you have to be very sharp, you mustn't give the opponent space from the first whistle. We gave new players a chance to play, I think the pressure got to them, I could sense moments of hesitation so they went back to playing the old way. We had to make changes in the second half. Even though there were dangerous moments, we saw a better and more organised side.
"The team hasn't played competitively in almost nine months and we've only been together less than 10 days, so it's still early days for us. We will work on strengthening our defence and with a few more games, hope to see a difference in how they play," said Pauw.
US-based midfielder, Robyn Moodaly was named Diski Queen for her role in Banyana Banyana's defence, frustrating the Zimbabweans build-ups in key moments of the game. But she was brought down in the second half and later taken to Milpark Hospital where she is recovering from a knee injury. The medical team will await results from the MRI Scan to determine the seriousness of her injury.
"Robyn has injured her knee, it isn't as bad as we had thought but we will await results from the MRI Scan to determine the severity of the injury and work out a rehabilitation programme for her," added Pauw.