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5 - 4
on penalties

Banyana avoid wooden spoon

Posted: 13 March 2013 Time: 19:38

Banyana Banyana have finished 11th at the Cyprus Cup after beating Northern Ireland 5-4 on penalties at the Tascos Markos Stadium in Paralimini.

The match was tied 1-1 at full-time then went straight to the penalty shootout.

After losing 2-0 to Korea and 1-0 to Ireland, South Africa’s women beat Northern Ireland 2-1 to complete the group stages and set up a clash against the same opponents for the 11th and 12th play-off spots.

Ahead of the trip to Cyprus, coach Joseph Mkhonza spoke of creating a larger pool of players and giving untested players from the Sasol League a chance to prove their worth at national team level.

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Shiwe Nogwanya and Zanele Chiya are just two of those who have learnt the rigours of international football.

The 22-year-old Chiya is one of five new players called up to the national set-up for the first time and has remained positive despite not featuring in the tournament.

“I’m thrilled just to have been part of Banyana Banyana and the past three weeks have all been about learning for me,” said Chiya, a defender from the TUT Ladies team.

“I’ve learned how to move the ball quickly, the importance of timing when in possession and quick recovery after losing the ball. But most critically, I found that the bonding with teammates off-the-field makes the chemistry so effortless to work with during match day because of the personal and playing style understanding.”

Nogwanya, one of the few success stories of the tournament for Banyana, made her debut against Northern Ireland in the group stages and believes she and her teammates learnt a lot during the trip.

“Things were tough out here and we had to chase most of the games after slow starts and conceding early in the match but moving forward, emphasis in our play must be to focus at all times,” Nogwanya says.

“I found things very different from club level to the international stage; the tactics, ball work at training and moving into space at specific times during matches was a key learning area for me, but I believe through hard work I will improve and be recalled for future national team camps.”

The winner of the 2013 Cyprus Cup was to be decided after the England and Canada final which took place late on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cyprus.

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