7 March 2013
Banyana Banyana’s challenge at the 12-nation Cyprus Women’s Cup got off to a rocky start as the South Africans went down 2-0 to Group C favourites South Korea at Ammacostos Stadium on Wednesday.
Banyana lost 2-1 to the same opponents last year, but came into the tournament highly confident that they would avenge the defeat against the Koreans, ranked 16th in the world. However, the speed and skill of the Asian side proved too much for South Africa.
Two goals at the beginning of each half was the difference between the two sides as Joseph Mkhonza’s charges allowed their opponents too much space and time on the ball while coming off second best in midfield.
A goal down
The African Women’s Championship runners-up found themselves a goal down within the first 10 minutes following a terribly taken goal kick by stand-in goalkeeper Andile Dlamini.
Dlamini, deputising for Thoko Mndaweni, was given an opportunity to keep goal for the first time at a tournament with Banyana, but lacked confidence and would not have been happy with her debut.
Her awful goal kick fell straight onto the path of dangerous Korean striker Ji Soyun, who easily controlled the ball before shrugging off the challenge of central defender Lebogang Mabatle and firing a low shot past the stranded Dlamini to make it 1-0.
Unfortunately for Banyana, the terrible start set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Koreans robbed the South Africans often in the midfield where Amanda Dlamini and Refiloe Jane struggled to make an impression on their tactically-astute opponents, who were also given too much time on the ball.
Towards the end of the first half, Mkhonza’s charges began to work their way back into the match. Some neat interplay between winger Mary Ntsweng and Noko Matlou created an opportunity for the striker, but her effort was well saved by Korean goalie Kim Jungmni.
The agile keeper was later tested by interim captain Janine van Wyk’s long range effort and Jermaine Seoposenwe’s low strike, but on both occasions she brilliantly smothered the two efforts.
At the start of the second half, a through ball from the middle found Jeoun Eunha, who had time and acres of space to beat a poorly devised offside trap and lob the ball over Dlamini to make the score 2-0.
Despite an outstanding performance from Van Wyk, the two defensive mistakes proved to be the difference between the two sides.
As the match went on, Dlamini grew in confidence and managed to pull off some brilliant saves to make up for her earlier errors to keep the score at a respectable 2-0.
In the evening kickoff after the South Africa vs South Korea game, the Republic of Ireland thrashed Northern Ireland 5-1 in another Group C clash.
Banyana Banyana next face the Republic of Ireland on Friday, 8 March.
- New Zealand 1-0 Scotland
- England 4-2 Italy
- Canada 2-0 Switzerland
- Netherlands 1-2 Finland
- South Africa 0-2 South Korea
- Northern Ireland 1-5 Republic of Ireland
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