Banyana Banyana suffered their second three-goal defeat in the space of three days as they went down 3-0 to Canada in a 2012 Olympic Games football clash on Saturday, writes Mark Etheridge.
Playing in Coventry for the second time, Joseph Mkhonza’s girls were 1-0 down at half-time and conceded a further two goals in the second stanza.
In the same city on Wednesday they went down 4-1 to the world’s fourth-ranked side, Sweden.
But unlike on that occasion when Portia Modise’s second half wonder-strike at least gave South Africa hope, there was nothing forthcoming from the strike force.
Ranked seventh on the Fifa Women’s World Rankings, Canada were cool, confident and most importantly collected as they moved the ball around with aplomb, putting their strikers into good positions whereas the 61st ranked South Africans too often found them isolated and outnumbered.
Although Canada scored early in both halves to put SA on the back foot the South Africans didn’t stand back for the Canadians, especially in the first half. The first half goal came after just seven minutes from Melissa Tancredi and then early in the second half (58th minute) it was Christine Taylor who broke SA hearts after a thunderous stroke had hit the underside of Thokozile Mndaweni’s cross bar and bounced behind the goal-line and out before it was smashed back into the goal.
The third goal came with just four minutes to go after Taylor had latched on to a killer pass just around the centre circle inside South Africa’s half. She easily held off any defensive efforts and picked her spot to the left of Mndaweni.
Mndaweni was a busy player, making save after save (two in the space of a minute in the final stages) and also having to receive attention from physio Fikile Pasha for what looked to be a right shoulder injury.
There were five minutes of added injury time in the second half but that was never going to be enough for South Africa’s Olympic debutants.
Canada ended the match with 58% possession compared to 42% by the South Africans and 12 shots on goal compared to South Africa’s seven and a total of 20 to 14 shots. Modise picked up the only yellow card of the day early in the second half.
And there’s no respite for the South Africans as they now face their toughest game of Group F on Tuesday when they take on third ranked and reigning World Cup champions Japan in Cardiff, Wales.
Japan and Sweden drew 0-0 in Saturday’s earlier game. Even should South Africa salvage an unlikely win they still seem unlikely to make it any further than the group stage as they are bottom of the group with no points and a goal difference of minus six.
What’s vital now is for the South Africans to make use of every minute’s experience gained on this Olympic stage and learn from it going forward.