Revenge denied as South Africa and Mexico end up all-square

by Mbali Nkosi, AIPS Young Reporter, South Africa

MALDONADO, 15 November 2018 – Maldonado saw the paths of South Africa and Mexico collide for the first time in the FIFA U-17 Women World Cup since 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago, where the Latin Americans’ 4-0 victory ended Bantwana’s journey as early as the group stages.

Fast forward to 2018 in Uruguay where the two were drawn in the same group B in a dramatic grudge match that ended goalless.

Bantwana launched their campaign in jovial mood, singing and chanting war cries of camaraderie in the hopes of avenging 2010. But it could all have gone so wrong in only the third minute when goalkeeper Kay-dee Windvogel let a shot slip through her hands. As she retrieved the ball so Mexico appealed, in vain, that it had crossed the line.

The decision provided little respite for South Africa as Mexico continued to attack and missed another open goal after 11 minutes. Then a header from player of the match Alison Gonzalez was too soft, allowing a comfortable save.

Bantwana seemed to have lost the tune. They were forced to defend deep for most of the first half, and struggled to contain the onslaught from the Mexicans who demonstrated their experience in global tournaments.

South Africa found themselves in trouble when No1 keeper Windvogel screamed for emergency assistance after falling and clutching her knee in pain. It did not end there for the African juniors who had made a sloppy defensive start to the game and struggling to link play between prolific midfielder Sphumelele Shames and lethal striker Chelsea Daniels.

Thus the first half ended with Mexico having secured 56pc ball possession and 16 goals on shot.

A gauntlet was thrown down in the second half with two yellow cards issued to Mexican defenders Reyna Reyes and Nayeli Diaz for dangerous tackles and two to Bantwana for captain Sibulele Holweni and midfielder Jessica Wade.

The duel remained as intense into the last 30 seconds when Mexico’s Gonzalez was shocked to be denied a close-range winner by the outstretched defensive leg of Fikile Magama.

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