Unhappy 150th cap for Banyana Banyana veteran Noko Matlou
Banyana Banyana veteran Noko Matlou wore the captain’s armband as she made her 150th appearance in the national side‚ but it proved an unhappy occasion as the team slumped to a 3-0 loss to Finland to finish 10th at the Cyprus Cup on Wednesday.
Banyana ended a disappointing showing at the tournament with a third loss in four games‚ not ideal preparation for the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France in June-July.
But coach Desiree Ellis will point to the fact that she made a number of changes in each game of the tournament‚ and experimented with positions and formations‚ which will have contributed to the below par results.
Ellis changed six for the play-off match with the Fins‚ including resting star names Janine van Wyk‚ Rhoda Mulaudzi‚ Linda Motlhalo‚ Refiloe Jane and Leandra Smeda.
There was little to write home about in the opening 30 minutes‚ before Finland caught Banyana out with an aerial ball and Katarina Naumanen headed them in front.
Karabo Dhlamini had the first real opening for the South Africans minutes later‚ but shot straight at the goalkeeper as Banyana went into the break trailing by a goal.
A mistake from goalkeeper Kaylin Swart saw her gift possession to Finland midfielder Iina Salmi‚ and she slotted the ball into the empty net from long-range to make it 2-0.
Swart was beaten again from range for the Finland third‚ though this time there was nothing she could do about it as Olga Ahtinen crashed the ball into the back of the net.
Banyana had drawn 2-2 with Finland in their pool opener‚ but since then lost 4-1 to North Korea and 2-1 to Czech Republic.
They are next scheduled to be in action against the United States on May 12 in a pre-World Cup friendly against the favourites for the trophy in France later this year.