S Africa seek redemption in WC after woeful build-up
JOHANNESBURG: South Africa make their Women’s World Cup debut on Saturday against Spain in the French port city of Le Havre having failed to win in 10 matches since qualifying last November.
Banyana Banyana (The Girls) defeated Mali 2-0 in an African championship semi-final 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 six while scoring only eight goals and conceding a worrying 24.
The most recent loss, a 7-2 hiding from fellow finalists Norway in Amiens last Sunday, was the heaviest with a prolonged pre-match bus journey partly blamed for the embarrassing result.“Our drive to the stadium lasted almost four hours instead of the planned 90 minutes,” coach and former Banyana midfielder Desiree Ellis told AFP.
“The pre-match preparations were rushed and poor defending left us trailing by five goals at half-time before a substantial second-half improvement enabled us to score twice.”Ellis admitted a similar sluggish start against Spain — 36 places higher than South Africa in the world rankings — will spell disaster at the 25,000-capacity Stade Oceane.