In their first ever meeting with the USA, the South African Senior Women’s National Team, Banyana Banyana, put up a brave fight but eventually went down 1-0 to the Olympic and World Champions.
The clash took place on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.
From the first whistle, the visitors were not overawed by the occasion and went toe to toe with the number one ranked nation in a match watched by 19, 272 spectators.
But the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana had some scary moments early on with Julie Johnston just missing an inviting header from a corner kick.
In the 20th minute captain Janine van Wyk, who was solid in defence throughout the match, blocked a goal-bound shot with South African goalkeeper Roxanne Barker in no man’s land.
Seven minutes later the visitors were forced to make a substitution after striker Shiwe Nogwanya went down with a suspected broken elbow, and stretchered off the field, with Sanah Mollo taking her place.
Nogwanya, however, is recovering well after receiving medical attention.
Van Wyk led from the front, stopping any move from the Americans while at the other end of the field Jermaine Seoposenwe gave the hosts a torrid time in defence.
But Banyana Banyana went to sleep in the 35th minute and Crystal Dunn pounced to give her country a 1-0 nil lead.
The goal seemed to have rattled the South Africans as they could not keep possession and had to double their efforts to keep the attacking USA at bay – with Barker getting in on the action with some fine saves.
At the start of the second half, Pauw introduced Nompumelelo Nyandeni for Robyn Moodaly, a move that paid dividends as South Africa slowly got back into the match.
But the visitors had to be alert in the 48th minute when defender Nothando Vilakazi cleared off the line with a header.
A short while later, Lebohang Ramalepe made way for Leandra Smeda as Pauw was sensing an equaliser.
In the 60th minute, Amanda Dlamini replaced Linda Motlhalo who had gone off.
Dlamini was making her 100th appearance for South Africa, joining an elite group of Banyana Banyana players – Van Wyk (131), Nyandeni (125), Noko Matlou (124) and the retired Portia Modise (124).
Nyandeni is now the second-highest capped player.
Thembi Kgatlana then entered the fray in place of Seoposenwe and shortly thereafter had the best chance for South Africa to level the scores but did not make use of the opportunity.
Bambanani Mbane was Banyana Banyana’s last substitution as she checked in for Vilakazi with three minutes remaining.
At the end, it was a gallant effort from South Africa as no one gave them a chance to do well against the high-riding USA who haven’t lost a match this year in 13 outings.
While they left Chicago defeated, they were not disappointing in their performance, which augurs well for the 2016 Rio Olympics Games – both teams were using this match to fine tune their plans ahead of those Games.
With this win, the USA continues with their unbeaten record in Chicago, while it was also a special day for their goalkeeper Hope Solo who reached a record 100 clean sheets – a milestone no other goalkeeper, male or female, has ever attained.
In their final warm-up match before the Olympics, the USA will next play Costa Rica on 22 July in Kansas City while Banyana will be up against New Zealand. The match will take place in Brazil later this month.
– African News Agency (ANA)
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