A much improved performance by Banyana Banyana was not enough to avoid a 1-0 defeat against the Republic of Ireland in the second match of the Cyprus Cup in Group C. The match took place in windy conditions at Paralimni stadium in Cyprus.
A lapse of concentration in one of the most crucial stages of the match again – opening five minutes of the second half – saw the Irish girls profit through an Aine ‘O Gorman half volley from inside the penalty area.
The Sasol-sponsored side dominated the contest in the first half, struck the crossbar three times in the second half, but unluckily failed to score against the towering opponents who came into the match buoyed by a 5-1 opening day drubbing of Northern Ireland also in Group C.
Playing with the advantage of the wind in the first half, Ireland put Banyana on the back foot but coach Joseph Mkhonza’s charges weathered the pressure. From one such incident with the wind in favour of the Irish, Grace Murray watched in agony as her in-swinging corner kick from the left struck the crossbar and cleared to safety by the outstanding Janine van Wyk.
Refiloe Jane and Amanda Dlamini produced a far better display in the middle of the park to stifle the Irish but it was upfront where Banyana’s attack looked jaded. Jane, in particular, played superbly as the protective shield for the back four. Jermaine Seoposenwe was sent through by a defence-splitting pass from Jane but saw her shot saved by Ireland goal minder Emma Byrne midway through the first half.
Substitute Noko Matlou and fellow striker Nomathemba Ntsibande, came close to scoring on three occasions in the second half but first Matlou’s header agonizingly shaved the upright. Moments later, Ntsibande struck the upright with a fierce low shot while the Ireland goalkeeper Byrne dived low to save one of Matlou’s other attempts towards the end of the match.
Arguably the best player on the park for Banyana was winger Mary Ntsweng. She thought she had scored with a long range effort but watched in disbelief as the shot cannoned off the crossbar following sustained pressure by the fighting Banyana side that searched without luck for the elusive equaliser.
Despite conceding early on in the second half, South Africa goalkeeper Andile Dlamini performed well on the few occasions she faced challenging situations, a huge improvement from her first outing on Wednesday.
The 2012 African Women championship runners up will face Northern Ireland in their final Group C match on Monday (14:30) in Cyprus.
In the late evening kickoff after the SA and Republic of Ireland game, Korea Republic will play against Northern Ireland.