South Africa bowed out of the ongoing FIFA Women World Cup in France after losing their 3rd successive group B match. Coach Desiree Ellis tutored side lost 0-4 to the current Olympic Champion, Germany, to become the 1st African team to exit the tournament. Another Africa’s representative, the Super Falcons of Nigeria will have to wait for other results to go their way before they can book a spot in the next round. Nigeria was beaten 0-1 by the host, France, via a controversial VAR call in their last group A match in Renne.
Participating in the Mundial for the 1st time ever, the South African had an uphill task of advancing from the group stage having been drawn in a tough group that includes 2-time former champion Germany, Spain and China. Banana Bayana as the South African women are called, began their world cup campaign with a disappointing 1-3 loss to Spain. Much improved performance by the Bayana Bayana in their 2nd match against China, unfortunately, it also ended in a 0-1 loss. The South African needed a miracle to beat Germany and advance into the next round, but the miracle never came.
Germany, on the other hand, is one of the bookmakers favourite to lift the trophy, but the German Machines are yet to reach top gear so far in this year’s tournament, 2 slim 1-nil victories over China and Spain was not a vintage efficient German performance women football had seen over the years. However, the German women fancied a goal feast against the 1st timer, South Africa, in what was definitely a mismatch on paper.
Germany took the early ascendancies as expected, imposing the physical advantage on their smaller South Africans. Germany is known for their Aerial and set-piece prowess, they duly made it count in the 14th minute, Melanie Leupolz was left unmarked in the South African box, and she obliged with a nodded goal from a corner kick. Germany was then gifted the 2nd goal in the 29th minute when South African goalkeeper Andile Dlamini made a mess of a wayward square play, Dlamini pushed the ball unto the path of un-rushing Sara Dabritz, who fired into an empty net. Yet another headed goal for Germany in the 40th minute, Giulia Gwinn’s fine cross into the box was met by Alexandra Popp, to make it 3 nil in favour of Germany. South Africa’s chance of scoring was made even harder with their pacey forward, Thembi Kgatlana not fit enough to make the starting 11, and it was evident in the teams poor showing in the attack, firing a single shot at Germany’s goal in the entirety of the 1st 45 minutes.
Desperately needing a goal, South Africa brought on half-fit Kgatlana after the break, and she could have gotten on the scoresheet when she broke away with lightning pace, but she couldn’t beat Almuth Schult in goal for Germany. Soon after, Germany got their 4th goal in the 58th minute, another set-piece was nodded goal bound as Dlamini put a hand to it, it rebounded off the post and was tapped in by Lina Magull. Germany could have scored as much as twice as they did, but series of fine saves from Dlamini plus a handful of mises from Popp and Magull kept the scoreline at just 4 nil.
South Africa exited the world cup with 3 losses out of 3 group matches, 1 goal scored and 8 goals conceded, a spirited fight from a team ranked 49th on FIFA’s roster, some way down the ladder below their Group B counterparts Germany(2), Spain(13) and China(16).
WAITING GAME FOR NIGERIA;
Having won their 2nd Group A match 2-0 over South Korea, Nigeria needed a point to guarantee a spot in the next round, however, the Super Falcons were on the back foot throughout the encounter as the host asked all the threatening questions. At some point in the match, the possession was 30% – 70% to France. Nigeria held the host to a half-time stalemate and looked like they were going to weather the storm all 90 minutes, however, with France threatening and probing, it was only a matter of time before the breakthrough goal came for the host, in a bit of controversy though. Falcons’ Ngozi Ebere conceded a penalty-kick which led to her been dismissed in 75th minutes, after her 2nd booking, France’s Wendie Renard’s initial kick missed the target, however, VAR called for a replay as Nigeria goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie was adjudged to have left the goal line as the ball was kicked. The burning question is, why call for a replay when the spot-kick was completely missed by Wendie? Nevertheless, Wendie retook the spot-kick and scored as France won Group A with 9 maximum points.
Nigeria still has a slim chance of making the next round, if other groups’ results turn out in their favour, for now, its a nail-biting wait for the Super Falcons, Nigerians and Africa as a whole.
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