SOUTH AFRICA — Banyana Banyana finished their FIFA Women’s World Cup preparations with a convincing 2-0 victory over Costa Rica in an international friendly on Saturday at Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub.
South Africa’s victory over the North Americans was fueled by goals in each half from forwards Thembi Kgatlana and Hildah Magaia.
Following the difficulties experienced during their preparations before travelling for New Zealand, this remarkable result was exactly what Banyana needed as they faced their first group stage match against Sweden on July 23.
After exiting the group stage early in their first global participation in 2019, coach Desiree Ellis’ team is anxious to display their progress in Australia and New Zealand.
The 54th-ranked African champions, who are in Group G with Sweden, Argentina, and Italy, radiate confidence after defeating the 36th-ranked Costa Rica.
Ellis will definitely be happy with the win and clean sheet, but she will be much happier with her team’s two goals, given they only managed one goal while giving up eight at the last World Cup in France.
Both major players, Kgatlana and Magaia, deserve praise for displaying their preparedness to make an impact at the next tournament on both a personal and team level.
After suffering a significant long-term injury at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) last year, Kgatlana made a comeback to the national squad.
The 27-year-old Racing Louisville FC striker celebrated her comeback in grand style by capitalising on Kholosa Biyana’s pass to score Banyana’s first goal shortly after the half-hour mark.
Kgatlana had a good opportunity to score even earlier but nearly missed the goal, underscoring Banyana’s quick and aggressive start.
Magaia, the Women’s Afcon’s MVP, demonstrated her preparation for her maiden World Cup debut with a brace in the championship game against Morocco, the tournament’s hosts.
The Sejong Sportstoto striker gave Banyana a decisive morale boost before their match against tournament underdogs Sweden with a spectacular long-range set-piece goal in the second half.