9 June 2019 – President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Dr Danny Jordaan has applauded Banyana Banyana for their gutsy performance against Spain in their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup match.

Despite losing 3-1 to the Europeans, Dr Jordaan says they must keep their heads up face the next fixture with the same vigour, fighting spirit and determination.

Banyana Banyana next face China in Paris on Thursday, 13 June.

The SAFA President met the team at their hotel after watching the game at Stade Océane in Le Havre, France.

Here is an edited version of Dr Jordaan’s address to the players:

You have done well, but the next match against China on Thursday is a must-win. You played well and defended well but there is nothing you can do about the Spain match, it is behind you now.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system is tricky in that one day the decision goes against you and the next day is favours you – but believe it was harsh, no question about it on both occasions and that’s what happens in football.

But those who thought that Spain was going to wipe the floor with you must have been surprised and you left your opponents very frustrated when they could not break down your defence.

I must also remind you about something we talk about over and over, that half a chance that you get must be in the net don’t wait for the second or third chance, as it might not come. When you went on the attack there was nothing their defenders could do, and that is your strength.

I have not seen a team that can cope with our attacking abilities and maybe we should use it a little bit more, but today was a very difficult day. We saw what happened to Nigeria (they lost 3-0 to Norway) and the next two games will be difficult too.

China also lost, so is it absolutely important that we win that game because if we do then we still have one more game, and you have a good chance – if you are not going to end second, then you end third with three points you can still go through to the second round.

So this is not the time to feel sorry or pity for yourself – saying we could have, we must have, or we should have, that doesn’t help now.

What is important is the attitude and the fighting spirit that you displayed and carried you today. Don’t drop your heads. I saw in the 74thminute you were making unnecessary passes and losing too many balls and when the pressure came on you lost even more passes. You have to keep the focus and the attention until 90 minutes. Most of the goals in football are scored in the last 10 or 15 minutes.

There are six players from Barcelona in the starting line-up of Spain but you showed them a thing or two, you matched them and were equal to them – so you can do it.

Just a word of advice, China runs for 180 minutes and if you are not careful they can run you into the ground if you give them space. But again they lost, so both teams must now regroup and win, if you do, you go to the second round.

So get your chin up, focus again, work hard again – no doubt it is going to be difficult, but you saw this game through. Outside those two penalties the game was even, and your goal was hardly under threat.

The China clash has now become a do or die affair – you must win, you have no other option. And I believe you can beat them, but there are no easy victories in the World Cup – you have to sweat, you have to take the pain, you have to focus and you have to work hard. I must tell you now, there is no glory than winning in a World Cup, that is the biggest achievement for teams.

It is strange that in the 1998 FIFA World Cup with Bafana Bafana vs France in France they didn’t get two penalties, but one of our defenders scored two own goals – and we lost 3-0.

The next game we played to a 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia, we could have won that match, and the following clash was against Denmark, which we should have also won but played another draw and we were out in the first round.

When South African teams play, very few teams in the world can match us. So we want you to go to the second round.

For now you must just say, we have lost and that will be our history, but let us focus on the next challenge.

The Minister of Sport, Art and Culture, the Honourable Nathi Mthethwa, also sends his regards and applauds you. He has gone back home after coming all the way to see you. He was happy with your performance but unfortunately it was not our day today.

But keep up that fighting spirit – the war is not over, you may have lost the battle but not the war, which has many battles. There are two other battles coming up, and if you win two other battles out of the three, then you win the war.

Good luck in your next assignment Thursday against China.

We are fully behind you.