South Africa had a less than ideal Cyprus Cup. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Banyana Banyana have returned from the Cyprus Women’s Cup with their tail between their legs after only bagging a draw in four matches.

But they’ll have to chin up, as their primary target was to use the tournament to prepare for their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup.

We look at the five hard-learnt lessons from that tournament.

QUICKLY ADAPT TO CLIMATIC DEMANDS

If Banyana are to cut the mustard against some of the best international teams, especially away from home, they need to get used to climatic conditions on the other side. The downpours that occurred in Cyprus in their first and last games of the group stage, were not ideal for their carpet football. So South Africa need to adopt a new approach to enable them to churn out their best in all kinds of weather.

POLISH ATTACKING AND DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES

Led by skipper Janine van Wyk, who’s the most experienced player with 164 caps, you’d expect a tight defensive unit from Banyana. But they were a shambles in the tournament - conceding 11 goals, while only scoring four. It would be unfair to only focus on the defence, though,as the forwards lacked fire-power. It will be everyone’s responsibility to make sure they up their roles in the global tournament.

Janine Van Wyk leads her team during a training session. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

KGATLANA IS READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD

Kgatlana might have scored just one goal in the four outings, but that was not a bad return from someone who started the majority of the matches from the bench. Starting from the bench, where she got a better analysis of the game, might work in Kgatlana’s favour going forward.

The African Women’s Player of the Year will have to live up to her reputation if Banyana are to make their mark among the world’s best.

MILESTONES FOR BANYANA PLAYERS ALL ROUND

If the upcoming generation of Banyana players are to succeed, they’ll need plenty of mentoring from those who have seen and done it all before. It was pleasing to see three Banyana stalwarts, Refiloe Jane, Thembi Kgatlana and Noko Matlou, earning their 50th, 100th and 150th caps respectively.

The trio boast an impressive tenure with the national team - Jane, the vice-captain, led Banyana to last year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon), Matlou is the first Banyana player to win the African Women’s Player of the Year award, while Kgatlana recently succeeded her.

ELLIS' PERSERVERANCE WITH HER YOUNGSTERS

17-year-old midfielder Karabo Dhlamini didn’t live up to expectations, but coach Desiree Ellis continued to throw her in at the deep end. The primary target might be putting in a good shift at the World Cup, but Ellis’ ability to groom the youngsters now shows she’s thinking beyond what’s currently in front of her.

In most matches and, whether Dhlamini will play at the World Cup or not, that’s a story for another day. But her selection to be part of the squad will be key in terms of her growth - especially considering that she was part of the Bantwana squad that played in the youth World Cup late last year.

Desiree Ellis will need to see how she can get the team back to winning ways. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix


@MihlaliBaleka 


Sunday Independent

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