Head coach of the South African Senior Women’s National Team (Banyana Banyana), Vera Pauw, is impressed with the team’s performance in their first match at the Cyprus Cup against Mexico.
The Cyprus Women’s Cup, a global invitational tournament for national teams in women’s football kicked off on Wednesday, 4 March in Cyprus. It runs until 12 March.
Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana are using the tournament as part of their preparations for the All Africa Games qualifiers which get underway later this month, and the 2016 Rio Olympic qualifiers.
The match against Mexico was Banyana Banyana’s first match since October last year. With the Sasol League in recess, the players have not seen much action since the African Women’s Championships which took place in Namibia.
“We gave Mexico a good game. We did not make it easy for them. They are fully match fit as they played in a tournament recently in January, and for us it was our first game in three months for most of the players. But be that as it may, I think our girls gave a good account of themselves and were a good measure against Mexico,” said Pauw.
“It’s just unfortunate that we also lost through not so good officiating because the first goal came after the referee gave our opponents a throw-in instead of awarding it to us. Also, after watching the video of the penalty we were not given, I am now more convinced that we were dealt a raw deal. But we were so close, just need to work on some areas of international football and I suppose that is why we are here, to learn and get the experience. All in all it was a good exercise. There is clearly something to build on, which is also encouraging.”
Banyana Banyana contained Mexico in the first half, with both teams going into the break with the score level at 0-0, but eventually lost 2-0.
“Considering we had a long break, I think we did very well. I believe we put up a good fight against a well-prepared team. We all know that Mexico is one of the good teams in the tournament and are preparing for the World Cup. We conceded two soft goals, one of which I believe should not have been a goal, but it’s the way football goes. We just have to put that behind us and get ready for the next match against Belgium tomorrow,” said captain Janine Van Wyk.
“One of the positives is that we managed to get opportunities in front of goals which we didn’t utilise – in fact we could have scored two or more goals. The negatives would be that we need to work on some of the defensive mistakes that we committed but, I also believe we had a clear-cut penalty which was not given but it’s one of those things you can’t dwell on.”
In the other Group C clash, Belgium and the Czech Republic played to a 2-2 draw.
Mexico is now top of the table with three points, while Belgium and the Czechs have one point each. South Africa is at the bottom of the table.
Banyana Banyana take on Belgium on Friday, 6 March at the same venue. Kick-off is at 14h30.
Mexico will battle it out with the Czech Republic.