Cape Town - Two first
half goals by the Netherlands were enough for see them beat Banyana Banyana 2-1 in the inaugural Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
International Challenge played on Saturday at the Cape
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 who were using
it to kick-start preparations for the upcoming Women’s Soccer 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 19th minute 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 goalkeeper and captain Sari van Veenendaal and reduced the deficit.
The goal was Kgatlana’s 16th 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 Under-17 Women’s national 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's next match is on Tuesday, January 22 against Sweden at 19:00, also at the Cape Town Stadium.