Leandra Smeda tussles with Ri Hyang Sim of Korea DPR during their Cyprus Women’s Cup match at AEK Arena in Cyprus. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu BackpagePix
Banyana Banyana might have suffered a 4-1 humiliation to North Korea in the second round of group stage matches in the Cyprus Women’s Cup (CWC), but midfielder Leandra Smeda is adamant that was a step in the right direction in terms of weighing up where they are in their preparations for the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

“We had chances in the second half (to come back) into the game but we didn’t take them and I think that cost us,” Smeda said after Friday night’s match.

“But we can learn from this game, and learn from the mistakes that we made as a team. We can work on the mistakes that we made as a team, and obviously improve on that, and prepare for the next game.”

In three of their last four matches, Banyana have had to come from behind in order to salvage a draw or get a consolation goal.

That, however, will prove to be costly in the World Cup in France in June against some of the best teams in the world.

Hence, the South Africans will need to learn to distance themselves from such illusions sooner than later, if they are looking to go to the global tournament in France to compete and not merely to make up the numbers.

Going into their next game tomorrow against the Czech Republic, it will be important that they forget about the previous match’s full-time score-line but instead, carry the lessons that they learnt.

Add to the fact that a bigger scheme to things about the North Korean encounter was that Banyana got an eye-opener of what to expect when they cross paths with China in the global showpiece on June 13 in the second match of the group stage.

“I think that most Asians countries play alike,” Smeda acknowledged.

“We knew that Korea would be tough opponents to play because we played them last year, but after the game we spoke as players.

“We acknowledged that they were quite far compared to us, well-conditioned and match fit.

“But I think that with more time and preparation, we’ll get to the level that we need to be at. And we’ll be well prepared for the teams that our in our group in the World Cup.”

With Banyana only bagging a point in two matches in the ongoing CWC, the chance to top Group A is out of reach, and automatically they are out of the contention for the finals.

However, there’s still the fifth/sixth place they can play for, if they finish as group runners-up.

That won’t be easily though considering that they face a rejuvenated Czech team that defeated Finland 2-1 on Friday.

“We’ve watched a bit of their game against Finland, and technically, they are one of the best teams,” Smeda said about the Czechs.

“They play as a team, and they’ve got few players that are good on the ball. So, it won’t be an easy game but we need to go out there and do our roles to the best our abilities.”

@MihlaliBaleka


Sunday Independent

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