Durban — Banyana Banyana fought hard but were ultimately outdone 5-1 by the technically superior fifth ranked Netherlands at the Cars Jeans Stadion in The Hague on Tuesday night.
Manchester United’s Jackie Groenen gave the home side the lead in the 12th minute with a shot that gave South African goalkeeper Andile Dlamini no chance of saving. Groenen’s strike was powerful and had plenty of swerve, so much so that it left Dlamini dumbfounded.
After threatening the Netherlands a couple of times in the opening minutes of the game, Thembi Kgatlana drew Banyana level in the 24th minute after being found by a Karabo Dhlamini pass.
Kgatlana’s pace appeared to be causing the Netherlands back four issues and her finish was clinical.
Lineth Beerensteyn then put the Netherlands ahead again just after the half-hour mark. She beat her marker, producing a great finish from close range.
In form Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema then scored a world-class goal in the 40th minute to score the Dutch ladies’ third of the evening. She got her positioning perfect and made herself available for a return ball. The 25-year-old controlled the ball with her right foot in the build-up to the goal before finishing with her left.
The Netherlands got their fourth goal in the 76th minute through Damaris Egurrrola who completed a well-executed team move by simply passing the ball into the net.
Egurrola got her second and the Netherlands' fifth in second half stoppage time with an easy finish from close range following a free-kick.
The South Africans started the game looking very competitive with Kgatlana in particular causing problems for the Dutch defence. However, it was clear that Kgatlana was not receiving much support from her team-mates as Gabriela Salgado could not match her tempo.
One of the problems that Banyana need to figure out going forward is how they will support Kgatlana without the presence of Refiloe Jane who missed the game.
To their credit, the Dutch also showed their class. After Kgatlana scored, they showed tactical nous by then cutting off all supply to her, so much so that she was virtually anonymous for much of the game thereafter.
Banyana opted to make a rare goalkeeping change at the start of the second half as Kaylin Swart came on in place of Dlamini. To be fair to Dlamini, she did not have much of a chance in terms of saving any of the three goals that went past her. She also never really had much opportunity to make a save.
Banyana had a chance to reduce the deficit early in the second half as they won a penalty. Veteran Noko Matlou stepped up to take it. The normally reliable and clinical Matlou seemed to suffer from stage fright as Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal saved.
While Banyana were ultimately outclassed, the positive that they can take from the game is that they were competitive against one of the best teams in the world. Had they been more clinical with their opportunities created, the score deficit would have been lower.
The game would have offered good preparation to the South Africans ahead of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations that starts in July.