JOHANNESBURG –The Cyprus Women’s Cup from February 27 to March 6, will give Banyana Banyana a taste of things to come because five of the teams competing have qualified for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
The tournament, which features 12 nations, will give South Africa a great chance to run the rule over players they could be lining-up against when the World Cup is played in France from June 7 to July 7.
Apart from Banyana, the other teams that have already qualified for France are Nigeria, Italy, Thailand and South Korea.
Coach Desiree Ellis says there is now more to play for in the tournament after the format was altered. This time around, every participating team will now get a chance to play for the trophy – previously, only select groups in the tournament could fight for gold.
The event has been held annually since 2008, and although the competition takes place in Cyprus, the hosts have never taken part.
South Africa did not play in the inaugural tournament, but participated in 2009 when they finished in sixth place – their highest-ever finish (just like in 2018).
At their maiden competition, they played four matches – losing three and winning one (beating Scotland 2-0).
The losses came from England (6-0), France (3-2) and the Netherlands (3-2). South Africa also featured in the 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018 editions.
Banyana Banyana will face Finland, Korea DPR and the Czech Republic in the 2019 edition.
Ellis’s charges are the lowest-ranked nation at the 2019 tournament in 48th position, while Korea DPR is the highest-ranking country in 11th spot, with Finland and the Czech Republic 28th and 31st respectively.
South Africa’s first match is against Finland on Wednesday, February 27.
"We have come a long way and this competition has helped every step of the way, as we have grown over the years of participation,” said Ellis.
The 2019 teams are:
North Korea, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Mexico, Finland, Thailand, Czech Republic, Nigeria, Hungary, Slovakia and South Africa.
African News Agency (ANA)