The South African Senior Women’s National Team (Banyana Banyana) has finished in 11th place at the Cyprus Cup.
Banyana Banyana clinched the spot following their 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Northern Ireland on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 at the Tascos Markos Stadium in Paralimini.
After going down 2-0 to Korea, narrowly losing 1-0 to Ireland, the Sasol-sponsored team defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 to complete the group stages and set up a clash against the same opponents, Northern Ireland, to battle for the 11th and 12th playoff spots. Banyana Banyana won the shootout thanks to a great penalty save by goal minder Andile Dlamini.
Ahead of the trip to Cyprus, South Africa’s head coach Joseph Mkhonza spoke of creating a larger pool of players and giving untested players from the Sasol League a chance to prove their worth at national team level.
Two Banyana Banyana recruits Shiwe Nogwanya and Zanele Chiya are some of those who have learnt the rigours of international football.
The 22-year-old Chiya is one of the five new players called up to the national set-up for the first time and has remained positive despite not featuring in the tournament.
“I’m thrilled just to have been part of Banyana Banyana and the past three weeks have all been about learning for me,” said Chiya, a defender from the TUT Ladies team.
“I’ve learned how to move the ball quickly, the importance of timing when in possession and quick recovery after losing the ball. But most critically, I found that the bonding with teammates off-the-field makes the chemistry so effortless to work with during match day because of the personal and playing style understanding,” she added.
Nogwanya, one of the few success stories of the tournament for the Sasol-sponsored side, made her debut during the match against Northern Ireland on Monday (11 March) and believes she and her teammates learnt a lot during the trip.
“Things were tough out here and we had to chase most of the games after slow starts and conceding early in the match but moving forward, emphasis in our play must be to focus at all times,” explained Nogwanya.
She came close to scoring on two occasions against Northern Ireland when first, she could not connect with the ball from a low cross, and then had her shot smothered by the Irish goalkeeper.
The forceful 19-year old striker, who plies her trade with Bloemfontein Celtic in the Sasol League added: “I found things very different from club level to the international stage - the tactics, ball work at training and moving into space at specific times during matches was a key learning area for me but I believe through hard work I will improve and be recalled for future national team camps.”
Other success stories to have emanated from the African silver medallists during their tour of Cyprus must be that of the young, fine talents Robyn Moodaly (midfielder) and Jermaine Seoposenwe (forward) while vice-captain Refiloe Jane played like the seasoned campaigner that she is, consistently producing a superb display in central midfield often linking well with Mary Ntsweng and the forwards.
The winner of the 2013 Cyprus Cup was to be decided after the England and Canada final which took place late on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cyprus.