Mndaweni looks ahead | SASCOC - SASCOC

Mndaweni looks ahead

The between-the-posts heroics of Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni often gave the South African senior women’s national team the edge en route to the 2012 London Olympics qualification, and her experience will once again come in handy at the Cyprus Women’s Cup.

The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana will spend over 24 hours on aeroplanes and at airports when they make their way from their training camp near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to Cyprus on Thursday, 23 February. The Cyprus Women’s Cup tournament starts on February 28.

ÔÇ£I remember how we all cried when we failed to make the final of the African Women Championship 2010 in Gauteng which meant we didn’t go to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany,ÔÇØ said Mndaweni, who received a bronze medal for Banyana Banyana’s effort at the African showpiece tournament.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£I remember equally as well, the smiles and excitement of our players when we held Ethiopia 1-1 away last September, to win the two-legged fixture 4-1 on aggregate to book our place at the Olympics. We have travelled a long road and we are very grateful to all those who were there with us every step of the way ÔÇô our supporters, families, SAFA and sponsors Sasol ÔÇô everyone played a huge role in their own special way to make sure we qualify.ÔÇØ

Capped 50 times for her country, Mndaweni has played a pivotal role in the Olympic dream. She saved a penalty and converted her spot kick in a tense penalty shoot-out which allowed the South Africans to see off Tunisia in an Olympic Qualifier in Tunis last year.

ÔÇ£My confidence has grown in leaps and bounds since the disappointment of the AWC 2010 tournament and SAFA has done well to keep the same group of girls together in order to build a successful team,ÔÇØ said Mndaweni, who hails from Vosloorus on the Gauteng East Rand.

At club level, the 30-year-old goalkeeper plays for Sasol League (Gauteng) side, University of Johannesburg, along with Banyana Banyana team-mates, national team captain Amanda ‘Toki’ Dlamini, Noko ‘Beep Beep’ Matlou and Zanele ‘Momo’ Sukazi.

ÔÇ£It’s a confidence game. I have full confidence in defenders like Janine ‘Booth’ van Wyk and Amanda ‘Amy’ Sister and they have full confidence in me too. I believe the hard work that has been put in by the players and technical staff during the three-week camp in Stellenbosch in January and the current three-match tour of Brazil, will be valuable when we compete in Cyprus,ÔÇØ said the goalkeeper, known as ‘TK’ by her team-mates.

In Brazil, Mndaweni has been hard at work in training under the watchful eye of goalkeeper coach, former Bloemfontein Celtic No 1 and also Bafana Bafana goal minder Simon Gopane.

She is working alongside fellow Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, who is based at the Pepperdine University, USA.

ÔÇ£If Banyana Banyana can do well in Cyprus, it will be a major boost for our girls as many of the teams participating there will also be in action at the Olympics in July,ÔÇØ said Mndaweni.

At the Cyprus tournament, Banyana Banyana will open their campaign against South Korea (28 February), New Zealand (1 March) and Northern Ireland (4 March).