South Africa edged by European champions Netherlands

Two first half goals by the Netherlands were enough for see them beat Banyana Banyana 2-1 in the inaugural Winnie Mandela International Challenge played on Saturday at the Cape Town Stadium.

Thembi Kgatlana managed to get a consolation goal for the host nation – continuing where she left off in the 2018 Women’s AFCON, where she scored five goals and finished top goal scorer.

This was the first match of the year for both sides, and were using it to kick start preparations for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in June in France.

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis started with the bulk of the team that played the final of the 2018 Women’s AFCON against Nigeria in Ghana – making only one change, with vice captain Refiloe Jane taking the place of Busisiwe Ndimeni, who was not in the match day squad.
Jane missed the final due to club commitments.

The home side was stunned as early as the second minute when Sherida Spitse was given space to shoot, and she made no mistake as she gave the visitors the lead.

While Banyana Banyana was trying to get back into the game, the Netherlands increased their lead in the 19thminute through Vivienne Miedema with a low shot that beat Kaylin Swart in goals.

The South Africans however found their rhythm and were able to match the visitors with play – and were duly rewarded when Kgatlana beat the offside trap in the 33rd minute, rounded off goalkeeper and captain Sari van Veenendaal and reduced the deficit.

This was Kgatlana’s 16th goal in a Banyana Banyana jersey.

After the break the hosts found some ascendency as they created chances after chances but could not find the back of the net.

Captain Janine van Wyk limped off the field early in the second stanza and was replaced by Noko Matlou in a forced change. Matlou is now two caps shy of 150.
Ellis also made some other changes – handing a new cap to U17 Women’s National Team player Karabo Dhlamini, who replaced Mamello Makhabane in the 62nd minute.

Ten minutes later Australia-based Rhoda Mulaudzi made her return in the Banyana Banyana jersey as she took the place of Kgatlana. Mulaudzi last played for her country in October 2017.

Koketso Tlailane and Nompumelelo Nyandeni also checked in, to replace Linda Motlhalo and Leandra Smeda respectively.

No matter how much the South Africans pushed forward to grab an equaliser, the Netherlands stood firm.

It ended 2-1 to the visitors – who made it three victories in as many matches against Banyana Banyana. The other two defeats came in 2016 – 1-0 and 2-0.

Despite the defeat, it was a much-improved performance from South Africa, and certainly a good start to World Cup preparations.

Banyana Banyana next face Sweden on Tuesday at 19h00, also at the Cape Town Stadium in the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge.