11 March 2013
Luck was not on Banyana Banyana’s side as the South Africa’s women’s football team slipped to a 1-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland in a Cyprus Women’s Cup match played in windy conditions at Paralimni Stadium on Friday.
A lapse of concentration early in the second half allowed Ireland to score through Aine O’Gorman, who struck with a half-volley from inside the penalty area.
Banyana dominated the contest in the first half, struck the crossbar three times in the second half, but failed to find a goal against the Irish, who had thumped Northern Ireland in their first match by five goals to one.
Playing with the the wind in the first half, Ireland put Banyana on the back foot, but coach Joseph Mkhonza’s charges weathered the pressure, although there were one or two close calls. One those occurred when Grace Murray watched in agony as her in-swinging corner kick from the left struck the crossbar and was cleared to safety by Janine van Wyk, who was outstanding in defence.
Refiloe Jane and Amanda Dlamini produced a far better display in the middle of the park to stifle the Irish, but Banyana’s attack looked somewhat jaded. Jane, in particular, played superbly as a protective shield for the back four.
Midway through the first half, she sent Jermaine Seoposenwe through on goal with a defence-splitting pass, but Seoposenwe’s shot was saved by Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne.
Substitute Noko Matlou and fellow striker Nomathemba Ntsibande, came close to scoring on three occasions in the second half: Matlou had a header agonizingly shave the upright. Moments later, Ntsibande struck an upright with a fierce low shot, while goalkeeper Byrne pulled off a good, low save from Matlou towards the end of the match.
Winger Mary Ntsweng was Banyana’s best player on the day. She came close to scoring and thought she had found the back of the net with a long range effort, but was left to watch in disbelief as her shot cannoned off the crossbar following sustained pressure by Banyana.
After the game, she said: “As a collective, we have done well in creating chances. What we need only is to improve our communication and be fully alert when in the final third.
‘Standard is higher’
Ntsweng added: “The standard is higher in the tournament this year, teams have regrouped after last year’s outing and strengthened their weak departments.”
Despite conceding early on in the second half, South African goalkeeper Andile Dlamini performed well on the few occasions she faced challenging situations and showed a huge improvement from her nervous first outing on Wednesday.
Banyana, runners-up in the 2012 African Women’s Championship, will next face Northern Ireland in their final Group C match on Monday. They beat the same opponents 2-0 in last year’s Cyprus Women’s Cup.
In Group C’s other game on Monday, the Korea Republic, who beat Northern Ireland 3-0 on Friday, will play against the Republic of Ireland.
- Italy 2-0 New Zealand
- Scotland 4-4 England
- Switzerland 1-1 Netherlands
- Finland 1-2 Canada
- Republic of Ireland 1-0 South Africa
- South Korea 3-0 Northern Ireland
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