A defiant Thomas Dennerby says that the Super Falcons cannot allow themselves wallow in “negative feelings” following Sunday’s opening day loss to South Africa in Group B of the 2018 African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana. The Swede says that despite the loss, the Falcons still aim to “win this tournament and go to the World Cup”.
The Falcons fell to a first-ever opening day defeat at the AWCON when substitute Chrestinah Kgatlana lashed home in the 85th minute to give Banyana Banyana a one nil victory which according to Dennerby shows how much improved other African women national teams have become with South Africa a very prominent example.
The Falcons’ preparations leading up to this tournament had been less than ideal with the team not playing a single friendly against any national teams. For a side that had played just six matches in two years, jaunts against a pair of U16 boys teams and a so-called “Eleven Sisters” women’s team was hardly sufficient preparation and it was perhaps with this in mind that Dennerby had attempted to downplay expectations even going as far suggesting in his pre-match conference that the Falcons could lose in their opening game. That defeat duly came but it was the manner of it that proved disappointing to Dennerby.
“I can see it with my own eyes what is happening in this continent and I can see that indeed a lot of teams have improved,” the Swede said. “I also know that South Africa prepared the team very well [by playing] a lot of friendlies this year.
“South Africa are really good on the counter attacks and we know that, we have analyzed and we know what was coming, that is the only thing I feel a little bit sad about that they scored just the way we are talking about so much that this should not happen.
“If you lose the ball in midfield, we have to fall back immediately with the defenders to kill the space behind don’t let them come with speed and play the ball in front of players that are coming and that is exactly what happened with the goal.”
Having lost their first game, Dennerby says he would now pick up the players to ensure they put the loss behind them as quickly as possible in order to focus on the upcoming fixtures against Zambia and Equatorial Guinea.
“[Just] because [we have lost] one game in a tournament, the first game you can’t start having negative feelings.
“You need to directly after the game, tell the girls that ‘come on girls, it was just the first 90 minutes now is really time to come together and fight because there are two games that can take us to the semi-final,” he said.
The Falcons next play on Wednesday 21 November when they take on the Shepolopolo of Zambia and Dennerby believes that the more time the Falcons spend together will make them better as they grow into the tournament. Notwithstanding the team’s inadequate preparations, the aim Dennerby says, still remains a World Cup berth and a ninth AWCON title.
“I think also time is good for us,” he said, “the more we [are] together the more we play together everybody knows already that we have a little bit lack of friendlies before, so I think we have good chance to improve the team and we don’t change our aim, we still want to win this tournament and go to the world cup no doubt about that.”