Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana played to a goalless draw against Slovakia in their opening match of the 2018 Cyprus Women’s Cup.
The last time the South Africans were here in 2015 they finished in 10th position in the 12-nation event that kicked off today and ends on 7 March.
Banyana Banyana were making their sixth appearance in the tournament. Both sides started brightly trying to get an early goal so as to settle down, but none came their way.
It was South Africa who got closest to a goal with a strike by Thembi Kgatlana in the 21st minute. She managed to beat the keeper, she was denied by the crossbar. At times Banyana Banyana committed mistakes that almost had them punished but they were quick to recover, and avert the danger.
There were no real chances carved in the first half and at the break it was still goalless.
Shortly after the break both sides made a substitutions, Banyana Banyana bringing on Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, who was making her debut, for Leandra Smeda, while Slovakia introduced Petra Zdechovanova for Martina Surnovska.
In the 72nd minute Kgatlana was again free on goal after she beat her marker for pace but she shot straight into the arms of Lucia El Dahaibiova in the Slovakian goals, with the rebound cleared away from danger.
South Africa had another great chance five minutes later when Mohlakoana received a pass in the box and her beautiful lob was parried away for a corner by the keeper.
Head coach Desiree Ellis made another substitution late in the match, replacing Chantelle Esau with Melinda Kgadiete, who was making her second appearance for Banyana Banyana after her debut against Sweden in Cape Town last month.
South Africa had the best of chances to score but failed to convert them and it ended 0-0 in Cyprus. The other Group C clash will be between Hungary and Korea DPR this evening (Wednesday, 28 February 2018)
Banyana Banyana will be in action again on Friday, 2 March when they take on Hungary at 18h00.
Here’s how they lined up:
Andile Dlamini (GK), Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Bambanani Mbane, Janine van Wyk (c), Linda Motlhalo, Refiloe Jane, Leandra Smeda (Kgaelebane Mohlakoana), Jermaine Seoposenwe, Thembi Kgatlana, Chantelle Esau (Melinda Kgadiete)
Kaylin Swart (GK), Roxanne Barker (GK), Noko Matlou, Zanele Nhlapho, Regina Mogolola, Rachel Sebati, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Melinda Kgadiete, Sduduzo Dlamini
Coach: Desiree Ellis
Lucia El Dahaibiova (GK), Lucia Harsanyova, Alexandra Biroovad, Patricia Fisherova, Jana Vojtekova, Martina Surnovska, Patricia Hmirova, Lucia Suskova, Maria, Mikolajova, Dominica Skorvanskova (C), Stanislava Liskova
Maria Korenciova (GK), Patricia Chladekova (GK), Monika Havranova, Valentina Susolova, Michaela Motovska, Kristina Kosikova, Petra Zdechovanova, Andrea Horvathova, Veronika Slukova
Coach: Ivan Hucko