Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Banyana Banyana outplay Northern Ireland in Cyprus

Two second half goals from Nomathemba Ntsibande secured Banyana Banyana a two nil (2-0) win over Northern Ireland in their Group C fixture at the Cyprus Women’s Cup on Sunday, 4 March 2012.

The win ensured the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana got a third-place finish on the Group C log with four points from three matches - and a chance to playoff for 9th and 10th spots in the 12-nation competition on Tuesday (6 February).

The South African Senior Women’s National Team’s opponents for Tuesday’s clash will be against the top team from Group A and B but this process has been delayed due to a Group B disciplinary hearing held on Sunday (4 February).

After a goal-less first 45 minutes of play in which South Africa had the better goal-scoring chances, Ntsibande netted from the penalty spot. This after Noko Matlou’s cross hit the hand of a Northern Ireland defender in the penalty area.

“Noko Matlou normally takes the penalty kicks but I saw that she was on the ground after her strong run and I thought that she was injured so I offered to take the kick,” said Ntsibande afterwards.

Banyana Banyana’s opponents were reduced to 10 players in the 75th minute when Catherine O’Hagan was sent from the field for a studs-up challenge – resulting in her second yellow card of the game.

Two minutes later, Ntsibande, who plays her club football for Sasol League (Gauteng) side Springs Homesweepers, made a superb run on the left side, beating three defenders before striking the ball with her left foot. The shot rebounded off the far goal post before bouncing along the goal-line and ended in the back of the net.

“It was a real team effort out there against Northern Ireland, and we could have been in an even healthier position on the log because we played really well in our previous game against New Zealand as well,” said Ntsibande. The outing against New Zealand played last Thursday, ended in a goal-less draw.
Speaking after the match, Banyana Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza said:

“We are delighted to get the win and I believe that our team is improving with every game they play. Credit and gratitude must go to SAFA and our sponsors Sasol for allowing Banyana Banyana to get some tough practice matches as we prepare for London. We will continue with our plans to ready the squad for the Olympics in July.”

Earlier in the day, New Zealand took second spot in Group C by playing to a one-all draw with South Korea.

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