Elation and Heartbreak Heralds Banyana’s World Cup Debut

Banyana Banyana suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Spain in their opening Group B encounter of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup played on Saturday, 8 June 2019 at Stade Océane in Le Havre, France.

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis had made one change from the squad that played against Norway in South Africa’s last international friendly last week (Sunday, 2 June 2019) – bringing on Van Wyk for Bambanani Mbane.

Spain dictated terms from the onset with a lot of ball possession but South Africa held their own in the opening minutes of the game.

In the 25th minute, Thembi Kgatlana left the Spaniards shell-shocked with a well-taken curler to score Banyana Banyana’s first goal in the World Cup.



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The second half saw the Europeans, who had made two changes after the break, throw everything into attack. 

Banyana Banyana played into their hands by defending too deep, but the debutants at times proved to be a danger to Spain when attacking, and would catch them on the break but failed to convert – something that has been a concern for Ellis.

Defensively though, Banyana Banyana was sound, and left Spain frustrated.

In the end the Europeans got a lifeline when Van Wyk was judged – through the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system – to have handled the ball in the box.

She was shown a yellow card and Spain awarded a penalty, which Jennifer Hermoso coolly slotted in in the 68th minute.

The VAR Nightmare Continued

The nightmare continued for Banyana Banyana as, after consulting the VAR system again, the referee pointed to the penalty spot and gave Nothando Vilakazi her second yellow card of match, which meant a red card – she will miss the next clash against China on Thursday, 13 Jun in Paris.

Hermoso put Spain into the lead as she scored her’s and Spain’s second of the night to make it 2-1, thereby becoming the first player in FIFA Women’s Cup history to score a brace of penalties in a single match.

Ellis made three changes in this stanza – replacing Linda Motlhalo, Amanda Mthandi and Ode Fulutudilu with Busisiwe Ndimeni, Jermaine Seoposenwe and Leandra Smeda respectively.

Seoposenwe is now the only South African to have played two world cup tournaments at different levels – she was part of the U-17 Women’s National Team that played in the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.

Story All Told with a Player Down

But with one player short, it was always going to be a mountain to climb, and Banyana Banyana conceded in the dying minutes of the match when Spain netted their third of the evening to make it 3-1.

The result saw them move to the top of the table as Germany defeated China 1-0 in the other Group B match.

The Germans are in second place, followed by the Asians while South Africa is bottom of the table.

Banyana Banyana will have to regroup for the next assignment against China, which has now become a must-win fixture.

Kickoff is at 21h00.


It was a day of many firsts for South Africa:

  • The Banyana Banyana team walking for the first time ever onto the field in a FIFA Women’s World Cup
  • The South African flag flying high at this tournament in France
  • The first time the South African national anthem was sung at a FIFA Women’s World Cup competition
  • It was the first time Banyana Banyana played Spain 
  • Desiree Ellis being the first ever coach to guide a South African Senior Women’s National Team in the tournament
  • Janine van Wyk becoming the first player to captain the team at this level
  • Thembi Kgatlana becoming the first South African to score for Banyana Banyana in a World Cup – and becoming the first African player to score against a European side in the tournament since 1995
  • Nothando Vilakazi becoming the first-ever Banyana Banyana player to be red carded in the World Cup
  • Jermaine Seoposenwe becoming the first South African female to play in two different World Cup tournaments in different levels (U-17 and Banyana Banyana)


South Africa:

Andile Dlamini (GK)
Lebohang Ramalepe
Nothando Vilakazi (red card)
Janine van Wyk (c)
Noko Matlou
Amanda Mthandi (Jermaine Seoposenwe)
Kholosa Biyana
Refiloe Jane
Linda Motlhalo (Busisiwe Ndimeni)
Thembi Kgatlana
Ode Fulutudilu (Leandra Smeda)
Mapaseka Mpuru (GK)
Bambanani Mbane
Karabo Dhlamini
Jermaine Seoposenwe
Tiisetso Makhubela
Bongeka Gamede
Busisiwe Ndimeni
Rhoda Mulaudzi
Sibulele Holweni
Mamello Makhabane
Leandra Smeda
Kaylin Swart (GK)
Head Coach: Desiree Ellis



Sandre Panos (GK)
Irene Paredes
Vicky Losada
Marta Corredera
Marta Torrejon (c)
Mariona Cadentey
Jennifer Hermoso
Alexia Putellas
Virginia Torrecilla
Maria Leon
Amanda Sampedro

Dolores Gallardo (GK)
Celia Jimenez
Leila Ouahabi
Ivana Andres
Patri Guijarro
Silvia Meseguer
Lucia Bonmati
Andrea Pereira
Andrea Falcon
Nahikani Garcia
Maria Quinones (GK)
Head Coach: Jorge Vilda


Match Officials:
Referee: Maria Carvajal (Chile)
Asst. Ref 1: Leslie Vasquez (Chile) 
Asst. Ref 2: Loreto Toloza (Chile) 
4th Official: Laura Fortunato (Arg)


Photo 1 caption: The pose that was promised and delivered: Banyana Banyana striker Thembi Kgatlana captured in the moment that has catapulted her into national folklore, becoming the first South African woman to score for South Africa at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, against Spain at Stade Océane in Le Havre, France, on Saturday, 8 June, 2019. Photo: Screengrab of FIFA’s match highlights on Youtube 

Photo 2 caption: The Kgatlana thunderbolt struck fear into Spanish hearts when she took the Africans into the lead in the first half, but the Europeans regained their composure after the turnaround to win critical match phases and place their supremacy beyond question, going on their opening encounter 3-1. Photo: Screengrab of FIFA’s match highlights on Youtube 

Photo 3 caption: Spain took half-time to make two changes and came back with cool heads and confident play that eventually tipped the scales their way, forcing an advantage through a VAR-assisted process that concluded that skipper Janine van Wyk handled the ball in the box, which Jennifer Hermoso coolly slotted to balance the scores. Photo: Screengrab of FIFA’s match highlights on Youtube 

Photo 4 caption: Photo: Another penalty followed another VAR decision which handed Nothando Vilakazi a second yellow card, which Spain converted for a 2-1 lead and rendering Vilakazi unavailable for South Africa’s clash against China on Thursday. A player down, Spain scored again or a final score of 3-1 in their favour. Photo: Screengrab of FIFA’s match highlights on Youtube 

Photo 5 caption: This moment has captured the hearts of all who support SA women in sport, and is no doubt a great marker on which the team and SA athletes will build for future successes. Photo: Screengrab of Supersport’s match highlights on Youtube 


With editing by gsport


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