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FIFA Women’s World Cup: South Africa denied first World Cup point by late goal

African champions South Africa came just shy of earning their first ever point at a Women’s World Cup on Sunday, conceding a late goal to lose 2-1 to Group G favorites Sweden in Wellington, New Zealand. The defeat came after a brave defensive performance from Banyana Banyana that saw them take a surprising lead against the highly favored Swedes to begin their 2023 campaign. South Africa will continue with their second group stage match against Argentina on Thursday.

Sweden, ranked third in the world, got off to a sluggish start and South Africa looked threatening on the counter attack in the first half. The speed of Banyana star Thembi Kgatlana caused trouble for the Swedes who were limited to attacks from set pieces where they could use their size advantage. Two opportunities from corner kicks late in the half found the head of Amanda Ilestedt but the Paris Saint-Germain defender could not find the target.

Banyana Banyana continued their positive momentum into the second half and stunned the favorites. In the 48th minute a long ball was flicked on for Kgatlana to run onto and her resulting shot was swatted by Sweden goalkeeper Zećira Mušović into the path of the onrushing Hildah Magaia, who finished the rebound with her thigh and suffered a wrist injury in the process.

The opportunities dried up for Banyana and Sweden took control of the match by the hour mark. In the 65th minute the equalizer arrived when South Africa defender Lebogang Ramalepe fluffed her clearance from a cross from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and the ball ricocheted off Fridolina Rolfö past Banyana keeper Kaylin Swart.

Swart and South Africa’s struggles to deal with Sweden’s physical advantage on set pieces was their downfall on the day. In the 90th minute a Kosovare Asilani corner kick service from the left wing arrived into the Banyana six-yard box and Ilestedt nodded in to spare the blushes of the favorites.

Highlights from the match will be available in the link below shortly.

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