With the first round of matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (FIFAWWC) in France rounding up on Tuesday and all three African teams losing their first match, the continent will look to match day 2 as the battle for points get tougher.
Debutants Banyana Banyana of South Africa opened the floor for Africa on Saturday afternoon with an impressive performance against Spain which was tainted by two controversial penalty calls.
South Africa had a plan, which was to soak up pressure and break as soon as possible with the pace of Africa’s reigning female player of the year Thembi Kgatlana and this soon paid off in the 25th minute. A swift counter attack left Kgatlana in space on the left as she cut in and struck the ball into the top left corner of the post; lighting up the stadium with an early contender for the goal of the tournament.
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) June 8, 2019
The Spaniards however came back into the game via two penalty calls before a third goal in the closing stages to kill any hope of an upset as South Africa lost 3-1 in the first game at the FIFAWWC.
On Saturday night familiar foes Norway and reigning African Champions, Nigeria filed out for the second game of Group A. For Nigeria, it was a disappointing performance conceding three first half goals in 20mins with the players all over the place and unable to cope with the high pressing game of their European counterparts.
The second half was much better as the Norwegians were kept at bay and Nigeria also created a couple of goalscoring chances but at the end, the 3-0 scoreline is all that matters.
For Cameroon who seem to be in an “easier” group, they also lost 1-0 to Canada on Monday night. A goal which the Indomitable Lionesses conceded deep into the first half in what was their first and only lapse in concentration having defended brilliantly throughout the first half.
However in the early stages of the game a two footed tackle on Cameroon’s Nchout Njoya in the box which should have been a penalty was ignored as a controversial call let the African side down.
What next for Africa?
The Super Falcons of Nigeria face Korea Republic next on Wednesday afternoon. Korea themselves lost their first game 4-0 to France and just like the Super Falcons, they will be looking for their first win.
This match up no doubt promises to be an interesting one as both sides will look to go all out for the three points to give themselves any chance of qualifying from Group A.
South Africa with 0 point and a –2 goal difference face China who lost by a late goal to Two-time Champions, Germany. Again, it is a match up between two sides in search of their first point(s) in France and Banyana Banyana will have it all to do against the experienced Chinese ladies.
For Cameroon, although the second Group E game between New Zealand and Netherlands is yet to be played as a draw could be a favourable result for the Lionesses; the fact remains that they lost their first game and will need to start picking up points when they face Netherlands in their second group game on Saturday.
In conclusion, the match day 2 which begins on Wednesday is a must win for all three African teams if they are to have any hope of qualification from their respective groups. The coaches and players have a tough (but not impossible) task ahead.