A history-making World Cup run for South Africa came to an end today after suffering a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands at the Allianz Stadium today — it was the first time the side had made the final 16.
A goal in the ninth minute by Jill Roord set the pace, giving the 2019 World Cup finalists an early lead with her fourth goal of the tournament. But the South Africans did not go down without a fight — captain Thembi Kgatlana continued to impress and had a close one v one opportunity late in the first half, the goal prevented by a huge save from Daphne Van Domselaar being the difference between the sides going into the break all square.
It was a challenging first half for the reigning Women’s Africa Cup of Nations who battled on despite having Jermaine Seoposenwe and defender Bambanani Mbane substituted off due to injury.
Early in the second half, Danielle Van de Donk scored at point-blank range only for VAR to rule the goal offside by a fine margin.
A reckless two-footed challenge by Van de Donk in the 67th minute secured the Lyon midfielder her second yellow card of the tournament and, with it, a one-game suspension in the quarterfinals.
It was a heartbreaking moment for South Africa’s goalkeeper Kaylin Swart in the 68th minute when the Netherland’s Lineth Beerensteyn’s soft shot slipped through her hands and dribbled into the back of the net. South Africa, down only 1-0, were still hopeful of finding the equaliser, but through the error, their fate seemed set in stone.
Yet, South Africa continued to push spurred on by the pre-match sentiments of their head coach Desiree Ellis who confirmed their intention to treat every remaining game this World Cup as if it were a final.
“When we came here, we said we wanted to get out of the group stages. We’ve done that and the sky’s the limit,” Ellis said.
“We live in the impossible here because nobody gave us a chance. But this group of players, they’ve shown through all adversity, through all the challenges that they can continuously rise and rise. And I foresee them rising again.”
Speaking after the defeat Kgatlana said: “I can’t say anything is negative, everything is positive. We are building. We’ve been building and that’s why we are here. I can’t think of anything negative right now, besides not making it, which is part of football, but [the Netherlands] equally had to work hard to get those points from us.”
“[We are] one of the countries that is bidding to host the 2027 World Cup. If we get that at home, it’s going to be amazing for women’s football in South Africa, in Africa and in the world to show that we have made strides and closed the gaps.”
The Netherlands take on Spain in the quarter-finals on Friday 11th August at the Wellington Regional Stadium. Looking ahead to the game, Roord said: “We weren’t allowed to talk [about the Spain game] yet. They’re a very good team, they [play] very good football but we have a chance as well.”
(Photo: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)