Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana are back home from the 2018 Cyprus Women’s Cup, which ran from 26 February to 7 March.
South Africa touched down on Friday morning (9 March 2018) after spending almost two weeks in Europe.
The squad was welcome by the President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Dr Danny Jordaan, National Executive Committee members Ria Ledwaba and Anastasia Tsichlas, as well as SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble.
Desiree Ellis’ charges finished 6th out of 12 teams, and this is a much better showing than when they first entered the tournament in 2009 to end in the same position out of eight teams.
Banyana Banyana faced Slovakia, Hungary, Korea DPR and Belgium in the competition.
“I am very excited with the way our women’s national teams are performing at the moment. Just recently the U20 bowed out out of the World Cup qualifiers, but the U17 booked their ticket to Uruguay. Now we have the senior team, Banyana Banyana, going to Europe to compete against the best and give a good showing,” said Dr Jordaan.
“South African women’s football is doing very well, but we don’t stop here. I am quite impressed with your achievement. Just recently you faced Sweden, even though you lost, you showed that you can mix it up with the best in the game. Now what is needed is for us to go an extra mile and give it one last push so that we don’t come back and say we nearly got it – now is the time to get it.”
Banyana Banyana’s next assignment is the CAF Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifier against either Lesotho or Swaziland in June.
“We now need to work and train harder and also get more quality opposition. I think we must go and play the likes of Nigeria and Ghana before the AFCON and beat them. It is very important that we don’t meet them for the first time in the actual tournament. We need to go a West African tour because in that way we will get used to their style of play,” added the SAFA President.
Banyana Banyana’s Thembi Kgatlana was voted Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The accolade comes at the back of her nomination for the CAF African Female Player of the Year as well as the Player of the Tournament at the 2017 COSAFA Cup.
Kgatlana has already left for the USA to her new team, Houston Dash together with new signee Linda Motlhalo and will be accompanied by captain Janine van Wyk, who returns for her second season. Also travelling to the USA as part of the Dash line-up is SAFA Video Analyst Shilene Booysen.
The 2018 Cyprus Women’s Cup was the 11th edition of the competition. This is an annual event that involves 12 women’s national teams from around the world, mainly Europe.South Africa was making their sixth appearance. Spain won the competition after defeating Italy 2-0 in the final.