JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana’s participation at the Cyprus Women’s Cup ended in defeat yesterday, the South African senior women’s national team suffering a heavy beating against a team they had previously drawn with.
Already knocked out of the tournament following a draw and two defeats, Banyana were playing for ninth place in the 13-country tournament.
And having held Finland 2-2 in the event’s opening match during which they showed great character by twice coming from behind, Banyana had belief they had the beating of their Scandinavian opponents.
But Desiree Ellis and her team were rudely awoken to the reality they are still a bit far behind in terms of being among the world’s top sides as Finland hammered them fairly easily, with a goal in the first half and two on the second.
Expectedly, Ellis tweaked her team - the coach making a massive six changes from the side that started against the Czech Republic on Monday.
All of Matlou, goalkeeper Kaylin Swart, Nothando Vilakazi, Karabo Dhlamini, Busisiwe Ndimeni and Molatelo Sebata go to start in the place of Janine van Wyk, Andile Dlamini, Rhoda Mulaudzi, Linda Motlhalo, Refiloe Jane and Leandra Smeda.
The changes appeared to be working as the South Africans held their own for the first half hour against the strong Finns.
But they soon went down as Finland headed in the opener in the 31st minute.
Dhlamini has a glorious opportunity to get Banyana back on level terms just three minutes later but she shot straight at the keeper after doing brilliant work to beat the defence.
With the scoreline remaining at 1-0 going into the break, there was still hope for Banyana.
But within five minutes after the break Finland added a second goal after Kaylin Swart erroneously passed to an opponent.
Dhlamini got another chance on 54 minutes but her shot following a pass from Molatelo Sebata was met with a brilliant save from the Finland number one.
As long as the scoreline remained at 2-0, Banyana remained hopeful and Ellis made some substitutions.
But there was just no breaching the Finnish defence and instead it was the Europeans who found the net four minutes from time as they secured a resounding 3-0 victory.
The match saw Noko Matlou earn her 150th Banyana cap.
As preparation for their maiden World Cup appearance in France later in June, this tournament is likely to be seen as a failure given the results.
But the hope will no doubt be that Ellis and her technical team have picked up on valuable lessons on how to approach matches at this high level.
Banyana will play world number one team United States on May 12, in their last preparation match before the World Cup.
South Africa (0) 0
Finland (1) 3@Tshiliboy