Additional reporting by AFP.
Banyana Banyana begin their 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign against
Spain on Saturday.
Drawn in a tough Group B with Germany, China and Spain, South
Africa will face the latter as their first opponents in Le Havre on Saturday.
Spain will have to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest if
they are to escape the hardest group of the Women’s World Cup, according coach
Germany, the reigning Olympic champions, are one of the
favourites to lift the trophy in France, despite their coach Martina
Voss-Tecklenburg only taking over in November.
Meanwhile, South Africa and China both came within a whisker
of winning the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and Asian Games respectively last
year. South Africa lost on penalties to Nigeria in the final while China were
denied only by a last-minute goal from Japan.
“I think we’ve been handed the hardest group of the tournament, and by far,” Vilda said, in an interview with AFP.
“If I compared it to a mountain, it would be like climbing three summits, all of them over 8000 metres.
“Germany can be the Everest of our group but South Africa and China are also playing at an extremely high level and it will be difficult to beat them.
“South Africa have so much speed going forward but they’re also solid and disciplined. Germany is one of the favourites for the title and we have never managed to beat them. And then there is China, who have a fantasic team as well.”
Spain enjoyed a perfect qualification campaign, winning all
eight of their matches while conceding only two goals, but their difficult draw
might not end in the groups, with the United States a potential foe in the last
They have also never reached the knock-out stage of a World
Cup but success at youth levels has created a sense of optimism this summer,
helped by some impressive results in friendlies.
In November, they held Germany to a goalless draw in Erfurt
before narrowly losing to the United States and beating the Netherlands,
Switzerland, Brazil and Cameroon.
For Banyana Banyana, the challenge is somewhat different. Battling
for equal pay and begging for scraps to professionalise, the women’s team has
left the men’s side in their wake. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
Defender Lebohang Ramalepe likened the clash against Spain
as akin to “being like a final”.
“Our drive to the stadium lasted almost four hours instead of the planned 90 minutes,” coach and former Banyana midfielder Desiree Ellis told AFP.
“The pre-match preparations were rushed and poor defending left us trailing by five goals at half-time before a substantial second-half improvement enabled us to score twice.”
Where to watch and kick off time
Live on SuperSport 4 and SuperSport Select 2 (subscription required). At the time of writing, there was no indication whether the SABC would broadcast any of South Africa’s games.
Kick off time is at 18:00 SAST.
Banyana Banyana vs Spain: Live scores and updates
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