Vera Pauw: New Zealand loss a wake-up call before Banyana's Olympic opener with Sweden


Banyana were humbled by the Kiwis yesterday in their final friendly before their Olympic opener with Sweden on Wednesday.

New Zealand’s goals came from Hannah Wilkinson, Amber Hearn, Annalie Longo and Sarah Gregarius, while South Africa replied through Jermaine Seoposenwe at Estadiu Luso Brasileiro.

This was Banyana’s fourth reverse in a row after coming unstuck against The Netherlands (2-0 and 1-0) and the USA (1-0).

However, Pauw says the defeat 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.

“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 – but you have to produce that performance every other day in a tournament like this. It’s good that we have been woken up.”

She added: “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.”