Sunday World

Banyana face uphill battle at World Cup

- By Kgomotso Mokoena

Banyana Banyana are learning the hard way with each and every internatio­nal friendly they play that it is going to be difficult at the Fifa Women’s World Cup next year.

Yesterday, they played against Australia in London and again, they were handed another heavy defeat, losing 4-1.

Last month, they played against Brazil and were hammered 3-0 and 6-0 in Johannesbu­rg. Banyana are the African champions after they lifted the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) in Cameroon earlier this year. But the bubble has burst and they are now being given free soccer lessons as the build-up to the World Cup begins. The Wafcon honeymoon is over and Desiree Ellis’s players will have to knuckle down to some serious work.

It won’t be for the first time that they will be playing in a Fifa World Cup. They qualified for their maiden tournament in the 2019 edition in France. They lost all their group matches against Germany, Spain and China.

The sad reality is that the gulf between African countries and teams from Europe and South America is massive.

Banyana may have dominated at Wafcon but the huge difference between them and the Australian­s was glaring.

Yesterday, coach Ellis gave a few players a run to widen her pool of players. Gaby Salgado made her return to the side after missing the Wafcon due to a shoulder injury. Fikile Magama, Tisetso Makhubela and Sibulele Holweni were some of the players who were tested.

But it is clear there is a lot of catching up, with the girls’ only shot on target being the consolatio­n late goal from Hilda Makgaia. Cortnee Vine scored a brace for The Matildas, while Clare Polkinghor­ne and Caitlin Foord grabbed a goal each.

 ?? /Getty Images ?? Australia’s Mary Fowler, left, and South Africa’s Gabriela Salgado
/Getty Images Australia’s Mary Fowler, left, and South Africa’s Gabriela Salgado

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