After leading for most of the match, scoring first in the opening half, the South African women’s team went down 3-1 to Spain in their opening match against Spain at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
Thembi Kgatlana scored a spectacular long-range goal after 25 minutes for Banyana Banyana, but after captain and frontline defender Janine van Wyk was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area, Jennifer Hermoso scored the first penalty in the 70th minute. She scored another in the 83rd minute after Nothando Vilakazi committed a foul in the penalty area and found herself sent off after the video referee adjudged that she was deserving of a second yellow card.
Lucia Garcia sealed the result in the 89th minute.
Banyana Banyana were making their Women’s World Cup debut in the French port city of Le Havre after failing to win in 10 matches since qualifying last November.
They were far better on Saturday than they were in their previous loss, a 7-2 hiding from fellow finalists Norway in Amiens last Sunday. A prolonged pre-match bus journey was partly blamed for that embarrassing result, and the South African team truly made Spain work for their win tonight.
They will next face China, who lost 1-0 to Germany earlier.
Banyana Banyana (The Girls) defeated Mali 2-0 in an African championship semifinal seven months ago through goals from star striker Thembi Kgatlana and Lebogang Ramalepe.
But after securing a World Cup place for the first time, the team has drawn four matches and lost seven while scoring only nine goals and conceding a worrying 27.
African champions Nigeria and Cameroon are the other African contenders in the 24-team field with the United States seeking a record-extending fourth title.
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