Home Sport Win over Costa Rica a boost for Banyana ahead of World Cup

Win over Costa Rica a boost for Banyana ahead of World Cup

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Banyana showed they were over the issues they had with their governing body Safa before they left for the Fifa World Cup, with a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in an international friendly on Saturday.

South Africa's forward Thembi Kgatlana reacts  during the France 2019 Women's World Cup Group B football match between South Africa and Germany
file. The South Africans’ win against the North Americans at Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub was inspired by a goal each from strikers Thembi Kgatlana (pictured) and Hildah Magaia in either half. Picture: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Banyana Banyana ended their preparations for the upcoming Women’s Fifa World Cup in style with a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in an international friendly on Saturday.

The South Africans’ win against the North Americans at Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub was inspired by a goal each from strikers Thembi Kgatlana and Hildah Magaia in either half.

This was the perfect result that Banyana needed heading into their first group stage match against Sweden on July 23 following the disruptions in their preparations before they flew out to New Zealand.

After crashing out in the group stage in their maiden appearance in the global event in 2019, coach Desiree Ellis’ team is hoping to improve in Australia and New Zealand.

And after this win against Costa Rica who are ranked 36th in the world, the 54th-ranked African champions will fancy their chances in Group G against Sweden, Argentina, and Italy.

In her efforts to show that she wasn’t taking the match for granted, Ellis’ notable surprise inclusions in the team were goalkeeper Kaylin Swart and defender Fikile Magama.

But the duo proved that they are ready to step up whenever called upon ahead of regulars Andile Dlamini and Noko Matlou after keeping a clean sheet in defence.

Swart, moreover, made a notable save in the second half to deny Costa Rica who were also fine-tuning their preparations for their Group C opposition Japan, Spain, and African side Zambia.

While Ellis will be happy with the win and clean sheet, she’ll probably be happier with the two goals heading into the finals – her team only scored once and conceded eight goals in France.

Credit should go to both key players Kgatlana and Magaia for showing that they are all but ready to make their individual and the team’s presence felt in the upcoming event.

Kgatlana was returning to the national team for the first time since suffering a nasty, long-term injury in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) last year.

And it was some return for the 27-year-old Racing Louisville FC striker as she made her presence felt, scoring Banyana’s first goal immediately after the half hour mark following Kholosa Biyana’s assist.

Even before that, Kgatlana should have scored but her efforts sailed inches wide of goals – showing how quickly Banyana came out the blocks.

Magaia proved that she’s ready for her first World Cup as well having been the team’s hero at Women’s Afcon, scoring the brace that sunk hosts Morocco in the final which secured Banyana’s first African title.

The Sejong Sportstoto striker rounded off Banyana’s win with a long-range set-piece in the second half as they took a huge morale booster into their clash against the tournament dark horses, Sweden.

Banyana have ample reason to want to do well in the World Cup as they’ll also face the No 1 ranked nation in the world, the United States, in two friendlies a month after the World Cup away from home.

@Mihlalibaleka

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