Banyana Serve Glimpse of Future in Loss to Spain


The South African national women’s team, Banyana Banyana, stood toe-to-toe with Spain and forced the Seleccion Femenina to blink first when Thembi Kgatlana curled home a beauty in the 25th minute. And up until the 69th minute, the South Africans didn’t look out of place on the big stage. Although they lost 3-1, some things about the team, were confirmed. One of those is that…

The long term plans of SAFA is paying off. It is not a secret that the South Africa Football Association, like every other FA on the continent, harbours the dream that both their senior teams will rule the continent. However, SAFA have gone about improving the lot of their women’s national team by pursuing a systematic program of infiltrating every corner of the country in search of talent, and creating tournaments that would help bring the discovered players along, while constantly finding ways of improving the local league. Apart from this, SAFA also ensured that…

The South Africa Women’s team played series of international invitational tournaments. The effects of the experience they had amassed in those travels showed…at least for 69 minutes. They were fearless. Banyana Banyana allowed the Spaniards move the ball – as long as the Spaniards were in their own half, but closed them down when in final third. No matter how often or how quickly the Spaniards moved the ball from wing to wing or disguised passes, the Banyana were waiting. They were able to do this because…

The defenders and midfielders were quick off the mark. If Plan was to be a split second faster than their opponents, it worked. The South Africans were majestic in those 69 minutes, as they snuffed out anything the Spaniards presented. A quick dart here, a toe-poke there, and a body check somewhere in-between, ensured that the Spaniards started looking jittery in possession. The Banyana were organized, calm and assured. And even though Spain got off half a dozen shots on target, they were more middling than threatening. But the South Africans were not only sharp in defence…

The simple plan of soaking pressure, and using fast breaks, worked well. In fact, worked so well that it paid off in 25th minute, when Thembi Kgatlana delivered her special. The African Woman Footballer of the Year had shown a bit of what she can do when she netted five goals to emerge top scorer at the Women Africa Cup of Nations in 2018. One of her goals won Goal of the Year honours. It was no surprise therefore, that Desiree Ellis played her as the outlet when Banyana run the fast-break; then Kgatlana saw that half chance and let fly. That beauty of that goal represented everything good about Women Football in South Africa and the journey over the past 10 years.

Still, the South Africans were taught a soccer lesson when they ran out of gas, and started making mistakes. The road to the top of world football is long, and there are many lessons to be learnt along the way. Banyana Banyana may have crumbled at the foot of the Spanish hurdle, but if the spirit they showed before the capitulation is anything to go by, the former minnows have served notice of the greatness to come. 




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