Banyana coach still upbeat in Cyprus

8 March 2013

Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza remains positive that South Africa will finish in a good position in the 12-nation Cyprus Cup, despite watching his side lose 2-0 to South Korea in the opening match of the tournament on Wednesday.

The Koreans scored a goal in each half to go second in Group C on goal difference behind the Republic of Ireland who hammered Northern Ireland 5-1 in Wednesday's other group match.

Mkhonza, who led Banyana Banyana to the 2012 London Olympics and to a runner-up finish at the 2012 African Women's Championship (AWC), may have been disappointed at the end of the match, but quickly picked himself up. He insisted his charges could turn things around in the tournament.

'We gave away a soft goal'

"We started brightly in the opening 10 minutes, but soon after we gave away a soft goal from a defensive mistake and miscommunication between our goalkeeper and right fullback.

"What is pleasing is that the girls fought back bravely and we regrouped, but it was too late," he said.

Banyana Banyana accepted the invitation to participate in the tournament to prepare for the forthcoming AWC qualifiers and also to create a larger pool of players by trying out emerging talent, such as Robyn Moodaly, Gloria Thato and Shiwe Nogwanya.

'Objectives'

"Our objectives to be in Cyprus can't change overnight because of our opening day defeat," Khonza said.

"We will continue to look into giving other players a chance, especially in midfield and up front, to also gain experience, and for us to see how they can handle themselves at this international level looking ahead of the qualifiers starting later this year.

"We learned the hard way from our defeat,” he added. "For our next match we will look at pushing up from midfield and supplying our forwards quickly to also force the opposition into making mistakes for us to profit from."

Republic of Ireland

Banyana Banyana next face the Republic of Ireland on Friday. "I watched the Republic of Ireland and I believe they are beatable if we knock the ball around and into space on the wings," Mkhonza reckoned.

The Republic of Ireland is ranked 34th in the Fifa World Rankings. South Africa is in 56th place.

SAinfo reporter

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Banyana Banyana striker Sana Mollo attacks during South Africa's 2-0 win over North Ireland at the Cyprus Women's Cup, 4 March 2012 (Photo: South African Football Association)

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