Vera Pauw (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The South African women’s football side hit a bump in Botafogo here on Thursday, going down 4-1 to New Zealand in a practice match.
According to the SASCOC website, it’s the second time Banyana Banyana have played New Zealand, the last was in 2011.
Playing at the 51-year-old Estadio Luso Brasileiro, alternatively known as the Arena Botafogo, the women trailed 2-0 at halftime and despite pulling one back with some nifty work from Jermaine Seoposenwe, conceded another two after the break as the afternoon started to turn gloomy.
It took seven minutes before keeper Roxy Barker was first tested and nine minutes later the Kiwis had their first goal as Hannha Wilkinson’s looped effort evaded Barker in goal.
Seventeen minutes later after Leandra Smeda had blasted over the top, it was the world’s 17th ranked side New Zealand who went 2-0 up after a ping-pong saga in the box left veteran striker Amber Hearn with an empty goal to strike into.
The islanders could have been 3-0 up before halftime but another fierce effort hit the bar and went over.
The second half saw the 54th-ranked South Africans coming out fighting and after another characteristically strong run down the left by Smeda, the cross was missed by Octavia Nogwanye.
And two minutes later it was Annalie Longo who made it 3-0. But coach Vera Paauw’s girls struck back within four minutes to give the South Africans hope as Seoposenwe got herself into space and with a few twists and turns, kept her cool to beat Kiwi keeper, Erin Nayler.
With 12 minutes to go it was the goalscorer who went off to be replaced by Sanah Mollo while keeper Barker had already given way for Amanda Dlamini to get a feel of the ball.
The match was finally buried by No 10 Sarah Gregorious two minutes from time.
Coach Pauw said afterwards: "It was a good opportunity to get our feet on the ground. The team just needs to get around various hiccups in planning and that’s why we were not at our sharpest today.
"This was our final practice game before the real deal next week."
Captain Janine van Wyk said the match was "frustrating".
"We can play so much better than that. But actually I’d rather lose this match than a 'real' match. Today we didn’t play as a team and conceded some very soft goals.
"Now we must just practice hard and fix things before our first game."