Banyana Banyana have done good things at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia/New Zealand.
The South Africans impressed in their second appearance at the tournament, confounding many with their brand of football and determination to put themselves on the world map.
Good things, they say, have a way of coming to an end, and as the popular Boys to Men song goes – Bayana Bayana have painfully come to the end of the road.
It was fun while the ride lasted. The world bids a tearful farewell to the enterprising South Africans, whose style of play captivated everyone.
A 2-0 loss to 2019 runners-up Netherlands at the Sydney International Stadium ensured the party was over.
Banyana Banyana fight to the end
Banyana Banyana may be highly ranked in Africa but are 45 spots below the Netherlands, but the WAFCON champions did not let that difference get to them as they bravely fought against the Dutch.
As underdogs, the expectations were that they would cave in comfortably to their more illustrious opponents. However, the Netherlands, who finished as a losing finalist in 2019, did not bargain for what they got.
A tough battle between the two sides saw the Dutch goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar becoming a massive factor in the ouster of the South Africans.
The Dutch goalminder made six key saves to keep Banyana Banyana at bay. Her heroics between the sticks was the difference between both sides.
Domeslaar was the player of the match, but Banyana Banyana, who had to fight for their dues before the tournament, can return home with their heads held high. They can rest in knowing they were not inferior to the Netherlands but lost out due to minor details.
Errors cost Banyana Banyana a place in the quarter-finals
The Netherlands is ranked ninth on the FIFA rankings and came into the game with higher odds of winning the match. The Orange ladies made their ratings count in the ninth minute when Jill Roord capitalized on a poor defensive clearance to nod the ball into the Banyana goal.
The South Africans had failed to properly clear their lines off a low header allowing Roord to cause damage.
With a 71% ball possession for the Dutch, it looked one-sided. However, the stats far from tell the whole story. Banyana Bayana got plenty of chances to score in the game but could not get past Domeslaar.
In the 68th minute, the Dutch struck again, thanks to the South African goalkeeper, Kaylin Swart, who failed to gather a tame shot. The gift allowed the Dutch to gain a comfortable lead. Despite efforts and pressure from Banyana Banyana, the Orange ladies held on to their advantage to book a place in the quarter-finals. They will meet Spain in the next round.
Reactions to South Africa’s loss to the Netherlands
The South African coach Desiree Ellis was proud of her team. According to her, they gave their all against the Netherlands. She continued that the team created chances but made errors in critical stages.
She also said they put up a fight and were always in the game. She blamed fatigue in the second half for their failure to bounce back.
The Banyana Bayana handle reacted with an end-of-the-road remark.
— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) August 6, 2023
Tebogo Precious was disappointed with the goalkeeping error that led to the second goal.
A goalkeeping error that can happen to any goalkeeper. Resist the urge to bash her every game day and give credit where it's due. Unlucky that it was costly, but what a great game she's had. Can't take that away from her performance today. ❤️ #FIFAWWC #BanyanaBanyana pic.twitter.com/oCL8PpN1l8
— Tebogo Precious 🇿🇦 (@Tebo_Motebejane) August 6, 2023
However, FIFA felt Banyana Banyana captured football fans worldwide, and should be proud of their efforts.
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 6, 2023
SA Mass Movement had a similar opinion, thanking the players for a memorable tournament.
— SA MASS MOVEMENT (@MASS_MOVES) August 6, 2023
Banyana Bayana: Plenty to be proud of
Despite an unfortunate start to the tournament, after a 2-1 loss to Sweden, Banyana Banyana picked up with a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Argentina. They also secured a 3-2 win over the highly fancied Italians to show they belong amongst the best.
The African champions have been in a long battle to register their name in world football, and they have succeeded in doing it.
They reached the World Cup for the time in 2019, then followed that with winning the WAFCON in 2022.
They also had to battle their FA for their dues before the tournament, and on the second time asking, they progressed to the round of 16 at the World Cup.
The team can only go higher from here, and they will return home knowing they did their nation proud.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago