Banyana Banyana’s World Cup campaign ended on a disappointing note as they were hammered 4-0 by Germany at Stade de la Mosson on Monday night.
Rooted bottom and pointless in Group B, the South Africans failed to achieve the improbable by qualifying for the knockout stages at their first attempt.
Banyana came into this encounter low on morale, considering they were yet to get their campaign under way – having lost their first two matches against Spain and China respectively.
However, despite those losses, coach Desiree Ellis’ troops stood their ground and didn’t appear as intimidated debutants.
But considering that Germany were going to be their toughest assignment in the group stage, the South Africans were bound to crack and have any chance of making the knockout stages nullified.
With the reigning queen of African football Thembi Kgatlana starting from the bench, Banyana’s defensive loopholes were exploited by a German side that were playing to reach full points from all three group stage games and top Group B.
The Germans hit the top gear from the outset, thanks to a lovely header from Melanie Leupolz following a clinical delivery from a corner.
From thereon, it could have easily been two for the Germans had Alexander Popp fluff a rebound from Banyana’s goalkeeper Andile Dlamini.
But with persistence and an awful mistake from Dlamini, the Europeans registered their second of the night.
Following a slow grass-cutter down the left wing, Dlamini stepped out of her line with a diving effort before unleashing the ball into the path of Sara Daebritz, who needed no second invite as she passed the ball into an empty net.
It then turned from bad to worse for the South Africans as Germany went to the interval sitting comfortably on a hat trick.
With less than eight minutes to the break, Giulia Gwinn found unmarked skipper Poppe in the box, who pounced with a bullet header.
With their chances of making the second round having gone from slim to zero, Ellis continued with an offensive approach as Kgatlana and Rhoda Mulaudzi took the field in the place of Ode Fulutudilu and Amanda Mthandi early in the second half.
Mulaudzi and Kgatlana huffed and puffed as they looked to bring fresh air into their team, but their efforts couldn’t pull South Africa into the last-16.
Instead, the Germans were more determined to hammer Banyana.
Lina Magull got her team’s fourth through a tap-in after a diving header by Marina Hegering came off the upright.
In the 72nd minute, the Germans should have put the last nail in the coffin after Daebritz found herself on a one-on-one duel with Dlamini, but only for the Banyana goalkeeper to pull off a delightful save.
While Dlamini was saving Banyana’s blushes at the one end, Almuth Schult was called into her first real save of the night.
Kgatlana had raced her way into the box and picked a spot, only for Schult to deny the effort with a brilliant piece of goalkeeping.