SPAR South Africa and Canada played out to a tame 1-1 draw at the
Afrikaans Meisies Hoërskool (Affies)
in Pretoria on
Thursday, in the first of the three-match test series ending on Sunday.
Africa started at
frantic pace, putting the Canadians under pressure early and had the visitors
pinned back in their half for most of the first half of the match.
An 11th minute break however saw Canadian captain
Stephanie Hume, in her first match as the skipper, put her team ahead as the
South African defence scrambled to keep the ball out. They were all well-beaten
though, and Canada,
ranked 23rd in the world, were one up on twelfth-ranked South
Africa then had
numerous chances from short-corners, and were unlucky to have a Kate Hector
goal disallowed in the 12th minute, as it came off Kathleen Taylor’s foot. The
home team kept applying pressure though, but took the halftime break one goal
Canada came back with renewed vigour in the second
half, and this time South Africa were pinned in their half for extended periods
of time as the Canadians pushed forward.
In response, the South Africans attacked whenever they
had the chance and in the second half, a combination of over-zealousness and
bad luck saw balls flying wide and over the goal posts.
"The girls were moving ahead one pass to early and
that’s why they seemed to lose focus about 10 yards out of goal," SA coach
Jenny King explained, "Our strikers aren’t up to international standard yet,
and that’s what we have to work with."
In the 59th minute Taylor came up with the leveller, as the
Canadian defence struggled to find their shape under pressure. And Taylor slotted in from near the post to save South Africa’s
Vidette Ryan had two further chances for South Africa
as the clock ticked down, but it was not to be and King and her troops had to
settle for the stalemate. King said afterwards that she was disappointed with
the performance, but could see exactly where her players went wrong.
"We are working hard on our defensive technique as we
build towards the Olympics and of course it’s going to take a bit of time to
get into it," said King, "Hopefully in four months time we’ll be way ahead of
where we are now."
Goal Scorer: Stephanie Hume (Capt) (11th min)
Taylor (59th min)
Technology Pretoria campus, Pretoria West)