Banyana Banyana victorious over Costa Rica in World Cup preparation match

Banyana Banyana completed their preparations for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in impressive fashion, defeating Costa Rica 2-0 in an international friendly held at the Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub on Saturday.

The South African team’s triumph over their North American opponents was marked by goals from strikers Thembi Kgatlana and Hildah Magaia, both of whom found the net in different halves.

This exceptional result came at a crucial time for Banyana Banyana, ahead of their first group-stage match against Sweden on July 23. It gave them a much-needed boost after the disruption they experienced during their preparations prior to travelling to New Zealand.

After their early elimination from the group stage in their first appearance at an international competition in 2019, coach Desiree Ellis’ team are eager to demonstrate their progress at the next tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

With victory over Costa Rica, currently ranked 36th in the world, the 54th-ranked African champions exude confidence as they enter Group G alongside Sweden, Argentina and Italy.

While coach Ellis will undoubtedly be pleased with the victory and her team’s clean sheet, the importance of the two goals scored by her team should not be underestimated. At the previous World Cup in France, Banyana Banyana managed to score just one goal and concede eight.

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The credit for this must go to key players Kgatlana and Magaia, who have shown that they are ready to make an impact both individually and as part of the team at the next competition.

Kgatlana made her return to the national team after recovering from a serious long-term injury sustained at last year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon). The 27-year-old Racing Louisville FC striker marked her comeback in style by scoring Banyana’s first goal shortly after the half-hour mark, following an assist from Kholosa Biyana.

Before that, Kgatlana had a golden opportunity to score but just missed the target, underlining Banyana Banyana’s fast, aggressive start to the game.

Magaia, heroine of the Women’s Afcon, where she scored two goals in the final against hosts Morocco to secure Banyana Banyana’s first African title, showed she was ready for her World Cup debut.

The Sejong Sportstoto striker sealed victory for Banyana Banyana with an impressive goal from a set-piece in the second half.
The goal lifted Banyana Banyana’s spirits ahead of their match against Sweden, who are considered one of the leading contenders to host the tournament. Banyana Banyana have every reason to aim for success at the World Cup, especially as they will also face the world’s top-ranked team, the USA, in two friendly matches a month after the tournament, albeit away from home.

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