After finishing 3rd in Group C, Banyana Banyana are preparing for the 9th/10th place play-off match against Finland in the Cyprus Women’s Cup.
South Africa and Finland will do battle in Nicosia on Wednesday, 11 March). Kick-off is at 12h00.
The Cyprus Women’s Cup consists of 12 nations, with groups A and B hosting higher ranked teams – and are the only ones in contention for the championship – while Group C consists of lower ranked nations.
From the three matches played so far, South Africa has managed one win (1-0 against Belgium) and suffered two losses (0-2 and 0-1 against Mexico and the Czech Republic respectively).
“The game against Czech Republic was the toughest of them all, not because we could not match them, but because our legs were tired going into the match as we did not have enough recovery time. Besides that, the team played well.
“It was a very physical game and they only had the one break through which they capitalised on and scored the goal. They did not have that many chances. We had more chances than them but it was very tough in front of goals as they did not make it easy for our strikers,” said Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk.
“We now have to focus on the next game, one more hurdle to jump and hopefully come out with a win. We know it’s going to be another tough encounter against Finland, but we are confident we can recover well and come out with a win.”
The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana have the All Africa Games and Rio 2016 Olympic qualifiers ahead of them and Van Wyk says tournaments like the Cyprus Women’s Cup gives them an opportunity to gain more experience.
“We gain a lot of experience by playing the European teams. The coach is teaching us to be a lot more flexible in our games and changing the system in our play. We have to adapt to that as those are the things we need learn to survive top level football. We are making huge steps and going forward we will put up a good challenge against African teams,” she concluded.
Coach Vera Pauw is happy with the progress the team is making thus far, with the All Africa games set to start in a week’s time.
“The ladies are working hard, they tried to keep their composure in the match against the Czech Republic, but this is only our third pre-season game. In the first half we could not get over our tiredness, it was a bit difficult for us but I must say they did well. We could have won the match if you look at the chances we created in the match,” she said.
“I am just happy that we are moving forward with our preparations for the upcoming qualifiers. I want to be believe we are better than when we got here because we are facing top teams in the game. I am also confident that we will do well against Finland although it will not be an easy side.”
Finland take on South Africa by virtue of finishing as the best fourth-placed team from Groups A and B.