Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Nigeria 1-2 South Africa: confident Banyana beat the Super Falcons

Posted on 4 July 2022 by Alasdair Howorth
Image courtesy of Nigeria Super Falcons.

South Africa showed their class in the battle against fierce rivals Nigeria and come away as group leaders in Group C. Following a comprehensive performance, including two excellent team goals finished by Jermaine Seoposenwe and Hildah Magaia.

Nigeria were once again found out by Banyana Banyana and with an injured Asisat Oshoala looked toothless going forward. The loss leaves them, just like in 2018, staring down another 2nd place finish in the group.

Story of the game

Neither team was able to stamp their authority in the early stages in what was a cagey affair, with both was trying to impose their style on the other. The South Africans looked the far comfortable of the two on the ball. Refiloe Jane in particular, controlling the came from her defensive midfield position.

Nigeria’s struggle to get a foothold in the game was compounded by an early knock taken by star striker Oshoala. The Barcelona centre forward to a heavy challenge on her knee and while she refused to be substituted, her mobility was clearly limited.

The teams were unable to create any chances of note until the 37th minute when Thembi Kgatlana, who had been a threat throughout, fired over from just inside the Nigeria box. Nigeria responded, by finally stringing together a cohesive attack leading to Michelle Alozie curling wide.

Despite her earlier injury it was Oshoala would tested the keeper first, early in the second half. A sharp turn and volley with her weaker left foot drawing a superb save from Andile Dlamini.

But it was South Africa who broke the deadlock. A rapid fire counter attack finding Noxolo Cesane on the right wing who slipped through Seoposenwe who slipped the ball past the onrushing Oluehi.

The South Africans had been the more confident moving the ball with pace and their quality was showing.

Just minutes late Banyana Banyana doubled their lead. With their tales up they were moving the ball with supreme confidence, this time Magaia the who finishing off a flowing move.

Nigeria were rattled, but were not defeated yet. Oshoala again causing problems when a Rasheedat Adibaje cross glanced her head. But Ifeoma Onumonu was unable to header home the loose ball.

The Super Falcons found a goal back when Adibaje fired home following a low cross after a corner. But it was a goal that papered over the cracks of a poor performance from the champions

Super Falcons head coach Randy Waldrum will have plenty to think about as his side will have to heavily improve if they want to retain their crown.

Questions will also be asked of his decision not to substitute Oshoala when she clearly could not move properly. If she is misses the rest of the tournament, it would be a huge blow for a side who look unable to score without her.

But all is not lost. In 2018 they similarly lost their opener to South Africa and came back stronger, going onto win the competition. With debutants Burundi and Botswana their other opponents in the group, it will be a simpler path to the quarter-finals for the Super Falcons to ease themselves into the game.

Banyana Banyana will take away a huge of amount of confidence after dominating their fiercest rivals. However, like Nigeria, they know this tournament is far from over and Desiree Ellis will hope to quell the expectations on her team.

Stand out player

Perhaps a reflection of coach Ellis’ team, but it was the collective that shone, rather than any individual. But the player who best symbolised the dominance shown today was Refiloe Jane.

The AC Milan holding midfielder, put on a masterclass on how to dictate a game from deep. Unflappable on the ball and a hard tackler off it, she set the tone for Banyana Banyana and alongside Mothlalo, gave Nigeria’s no space to play.

Line ups

Nigeria – Oluehi (gk), Ohale, Plumptre, Ebi (c), T. Payne, Oshoala, Onumonu, Chikwelu, Ajibade, Ayinde, Alozie

Substitutes: Kanu, Ordega, Ikechukwu

South Africa – Dlamini (gk), Ramalepe, Matlou, Magaia, Cesane, Motlhalo, Kgatlana, Seoposenwe, Mbane, Jane, Holweni

Substitutes: Gamede, Motau, Moodaly