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By Tshepo Ntsoelengoe

Football Journalist

Banyana tune up for World Cup with comfortable friendly win

Banyana begin their Fifa World Cup campaign against Sweden on July 23.

It was a perfect warm up on Saturday for Banyana Banyana in preparing for the Fifa Women’s World Cup, as they grabbed a 2-0 victory against Costa Rica in a friendly match played at Nga Puna Wai Sports complex in Christchurch.

Goals by the returning Thembi Kgatlana and Hilda Magaia were more than enough to secure the win for Banyana. 

Banyana’s victory over Costa Rica is a huge morale booster for the team, especially after their saga with the South African Football Association (Safa), which saw the team not able to play their friendly match with Botswana at home.

The Safa and Banyana fight was all due to disagreements between the two parties, which included bonuses for the team. But, the team left the country for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand’s with the issue having been resolved. 

Banyana coach Desiree Ellis made a few changes from her usual line-up, with the most noticeable one the selection of Kaylin Swart as the starting goalkeeper instead of Andile Dlamini, who has been number one choice. 

Another change was at the back, with veteran centre back Noko Matlou starting on the bench. 

From the start, Banyana seemed to be in control of the match, spending a lot of time on the ball.

Kgatlana strikes first

They did create some chances, but they just couldn’t get things right in front of goal. That was until just after the half-hour mark as Kgatlana put the side in the lead. This was her first game for Banyana since her injury last year at the Caf Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon). 

The second period seemed to be even better for Banyana as they managed to get an early goal to settle any nerves.

Magaia scored a free-kick from outside the box, which placed the team in a 2-0 lead and in total control of the match.

Banyana will now focus on the World Cup, with the team’s first Group G game being against Sweden on July 23.

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