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Johannesburg – Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza says they hope to keep their momentum going by playing more games against high profile opposition as they look to qualify for next year’s African Women's Championship (AWC) in Namibia.
“We need to make sure we have more camps and play more games against these high profile teams,” Mkhonza said on Friday after returning with his side from the Cyprus Women's Cup.
“And we need to make sure we qualify for the AWC because that will be our stepping stone for the World Cup.
“In the AWC, three teams from Africa qualify for the World Cup, and for us that is the main thing.”
Banyana finished 11th in the Cyprus Cup after beating Northern Ireland 5-4 on penalties in their last playoff match.
In their group stage fixtures, they went down 2-0 to Korea and lost 1-0 to Ireland before bouncing back to beat Northern Ireland 2-1.
Despite their victories over Northern Ireland, they failed to improve on last year's 10th-place finish at the 12-nation tournament, but Mkhonza believed they were on the right track.
“Our main focus was to better our position from last year, so we’re disappointed, but we are also happy about a lot of positive things that happened,” he said.
“We took a young team and they acquainted themselves very well in the tournament.
“I’m happy that we’re building a bigger pool of players, as we are not going to rely on individuals.
“We played against high profile teams which gave us a lot of experience going forward.”
Banyana captain Janine van Wyk believed the tournament was a learning curve for the SA women's side, after a new-look squad was selected for the competition.
“We had new faces in the team and it was their first time participating in such a huge tournament, so I’m sure it was a learning curve for the youngsters,” van Wyk said.
“It was hard for the new players to adapt, but they showed good character.
“Football is unpredictable – you never know what’s going to happen – and things didn’t go according to plan, but hopefully the experience will help for the future.” – Sapa