Banyana upbeat as Cyprus Cup kicks off
28 February 2012
Banyana Banyana open their challenge at the 12-Nation Cyprus Women's Cup against South Korea on Tuesday, but they will have to do so without the experience of Russia-based midfielder Nompumelelo Nyandeni, who had to withdraw due to injury.
Nyandeni reported to the team with a right knee injury and the Banyana Banyana coaching staff followed the recommendation of the squad's medical team by withdrawing the FC Rossiyanka player from the tournament.
"Losing a player of Nyandeni's calibre and experience would be a blow to any international team," South Africa's coach Joseph Mkhonza said in a statement, "but I am confident that Banyana Banyana will be able to apply themselves well at this Cyprus tournament.
"We are confident that all playing positions are covered and will not call for a replacement to be flown in from South Africa.
"The spirit in the camp is high as all the players realise that the standard of play at this tournament will give us a good assessment as to what can be expected at the Olympics," he added.
Mkhonza and his technical team still have a host of quality midfielders to choose from in Nomathemba Ntsibande, Leandra Smeda, Chuene Morifi, Memory Makhanya, Mary Ntsweng, Nondyebo Mgudu and Kylie-Ann Louw, with defenders Gabisile Hlumbane and Simphiwe Masina also equally at home in the midfield.
Nyandeni, who has been capped 92 times for her country and scored seven goals, expressed her disappointment at not being able to play in Cyprus. However, she was upbeat about returning to full fitness for the Olympic Games in London in July.
"I was really looking forward to playing in Cyprus as it was at this tournament two years ago that I was spotted by FC Rossiyanka," said Nyandeni, who made her name in South Africa as an enterprising midfielder in the colours of Mpumalanga-based inaugural Sasol League National Champions, Detroit Ladies.
"But Banyana Banyana is not about one player. The players have been together for quite some time, having been in a national training camp in Stellenbosch in January and then the recent three-match stay in Brazil, prior to flying to Cyprus. I am sure there is sufficient depth for the team to enjoy a successful tournament."
"All of the Banyana Banyana players undergo medical assessment when they report in for national team duty and it is unfortunate that Nyandeni will not be able to be considered for team selection due to injury," said Banyana Banyana team doctor Paul Maphoto. "We will remain in contact with FC Rossiyanka in order to monitor the rehabilitation process regarding Nyandeni's injury."
In South Africa's other group matches, they face New Zealand on Thursday, 1 March, and Northern Ireland on Sunday, 4 March.
The rest of the nations competing in the Cyprus Women's Cup include England, Finland, France, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy and Scotland.
Canada has won the Cyprus Women's Cup three out of the four times it has previously been held and is the defending champion.
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