Banyana Banyana’s chances of proceeding to the next round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup went pear shaped after suffering their second loss in the tournament.
South Africa was beaten 1-0 by China on Thursday at Parc des Princes in Paris with a Li Ying goal in the 40th minute.
The result means Group B leaders Germany advance to the last 16 with one match remaining in the group stages.
The Europeans have amassed six points following wins over China and Spain, with the latter in second place due to a better goal difference after one victory. China is third, also with three points, while South Africa is bottom of the table with no points.
Banyana Banyana head coach had made four changes to the starting line-up that played against Spain – bringing on Kaylin Swart, Mamello Makhabane, Bambanani Mbane and Sibulele Holweni for Andile Dlamini, Amanda Mthandi, Linda Motlhalo and Nothando Vilakazi.
The forced changes came as a result of goalkeeper Dlamini getting injured at training and failed a late fitness, while Vilakazi was suspended after receiving two yellow cards in the Spain clash.
Both Swart and Holweni join Jermaine Seoposenwe as the only three South African women players to have appeared in two different World Cup tournaments at different age levels. Holweni was the captain of the South African U17 Women’s National Team at the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, while Swart (together with Seoposenwe) was part of the U17 Women’s National Team that played in the 2010 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
China was quickly off the mark and settled soon after the first whistle, as they were eager to get going following the loss to Germany.
The Asians took the lead with just five minutes before the break, breaking South Africa’s strong resistance – goal coming from Ying Li.
Shortly thereafter Banyana Banyana survived a scare when China almost made it 2-0 but the ball hit the underside of the bar and bounced on the line.
In the second half Desiree Ellis’ charges took the game to China but found their defence solid.
Banyana Banyana made changes, with Jermaine Seoposenwe coming in for Ode Fulutudilu, and Leandra Smeda replaced Sibulele Holweni while Linda Motlhalo took the place of Refiloe Jane.
With South Africa surging forward in search of equaliser, China caught them twice on the break with the defence exposed – but Swart saved a dangerous Ping Hang header, before the keeper saved another shot from Ying that had goal written all over it.
It ended 1-0 to China, their first win of the tournament.
“I think we played well but were again undone by the lack of scoring. We know the people back home are not happy with the results, because we are also not happy but we can be proud of the performance we gave in the two matches. And we hope when the World Cup is over people will remember us for the bravery we showed playing against powerhouses of women’s football, more so in our first tournament,” said Ellis.
“And we are not saying we are happy with the loss, because you can never be happy with a loss but we gave as good as we got – and that for me is something to be proud of. We will regroup and hopefully return next time and give an even better account of ourselves.”
The last time they met, the Asians beat South Africa 2-0 at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil in 2016.
China will next face Spain, while Banyana Banyana travel to Montpellier to take on Germany on Monday, 17 June at 18h00.