Banyana Banyana suffer second successive World Cup defeat in France
Banyana Banyana’s Women’s World Cup hopes are hanging by a slender thread after they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to China in their Group B clash at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Thursday.
It was another brave performance from coach Desiree Ellis’s side, but they did not offer enough going forward and the Chinese largely managed to quell the lone threat of the pacy Thembi Kgatlana.
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They only managed a single shot on target in the game and that was a speculative effort from 30-yards, even though they did have some decent spells of pressure without a real cutting edge.
Banyana could still progress with a victory over Germany in their final pool match on Monday, but they would need a succession of other results to go their way and it seems highly unlikely.
China will need to beat Spain in their last game to progress, with Germany already assured of a second round place.
Coach Ellis made four changes to her starting line-up, bringing in goalkeeper Kaylin Swart, defenders Bambanani Mbane and Sibulele Holweni, and midfielder Mamello Makhabane.
China saw plenty of the early ball, but battled to create openings in the South African box as Banyana’s defensive line held well.
Chances at the other end were even more rare, though the pace of Kgatlana was causing some alarms.
She had a run on the right wing, easily beating the fullback for pace, but as she twisted and turned in the box, her short pass to a teammate was intercepted by a Chinese defender.
And she got behind the defence again on the half-hour mark, but this time the angle closed on her quickly and she could only prod the ball wide.
But China still looked the most likely to score and after Wang Shuang had fired over the bar from the edge of the box, Gu Yasha blazed well wide with the goal at her mercy.
The breakthrough came on 40 minutes though as Zhang Rui’s cross from deep was skilfully met by Li Ying, whose touch took the ball past a leaden-footed Swart.
And it almost got worse for Banyana as Wang Shanshan’s header from a corner hit the underside of the bar and bounced down, inches from the full ball crossing the line before bouncing out into the grateful arms of Swart.
South Africa had more visits into the Chinese box in the second period, including a succession of corners, but they failed to unduly trouble goalkeeper Peng Shimeng.
Kholosa Biyana had a first shot on target for Banyana in the 62ndminute, but her effort from 30-yards was easy for Shimeng.
Banyana though they should have had a penalty when Kgatlana’s weak shot appeared to strike the shoulder of defender Lin Yuping, but referee Katalin Kulcsár from Hungary waved play-on and the Video Assistant Referee failed to intervene.
Swart had to make smart save late on to deny Yang Li late on in what was a sold performance from the keeper, as China continued to look the most likely to score.