After a slow start and a rather dull first-half, it was the two second half substitutions that livened things up. The two sides came into the match having not scored nor registered a point in their opening two Group C encounters in the tournament but that was to change.
Shortly after resumption, Banyana brought in Gloria Thato and Robyn Moodaly to operate on the wings, and it was their superb work on the flanks that made the telling changes, resulting in strikers Jermaine Seoposenwe and Andisiwe Mgcoyi manufacture the much-needed victory for the African silver medallists.
Moodaly and Seoposenwe, the two talented youngsters promoted from Basetsana, scored the two goals within five minutes.
First, Thato linked well with Mgcoyi on the left wing and the tall striker controlled the ball with her right foot and whipped in a delightful cross which was brilliantly volleyed into the back of the net by Moodaly.
Shortly after that opener, Banyana got the second goal. Thato’s neat interchange with Nothando Vilakazi saw the later cross from the left wing for Seoposenwe to easily slot the ball home at the near post to make it 2-0 for Banyana.
As was the case with their defeat to Republic of Ireland last Friday, Banyana again dominated the contest for most parts of the match and should have added a couple more goals had the outstanding destroyer Refiloe Jane and debutant Shiwe Nogwaya been more accurate in front of goals towards the end of the match.
“We may have won but it was not an easy outing. The substitutions made us change our system, which completely caught the opponents off guard. But overall, we are thrilled with the result and being able to finally find the target in Cyprus,” said Jane, Banyana Banyana’s vice captain after the match.
The central defensive pair of Lebogang Mabatle and Janine van Wyk defended well but despite their heroics, they could not prevent Northern Ireland’s Lynda Sheperd from scoring the consolation goal.
The striker flicked the ball home from a free-kick to make the final score 2-1.
The 2012 African Women championship runners up will play Northern Ireland again on Wednesday morning (11h00) to determine places for the 11th and 12th spot.