A gallant Banyana Banyana put up a great performance but were made to pay for two unforced mistakes as they lost 2-0 to hosts Japan in a friendly international match in Fukuoka on Sunday, 10 November 2019.
Coming on the back of a heavy travelling schedule, Banyana Banyana could have salved this game in the second half but twice star striker Thembi Kgatlana was foiled – first by the upright and second was bundled off the ball when she was going for the kill.
But it is the two mistakes which ultimately cost the visitors who came back in the second half a different proposition altogether as they took the fight to the opponents.
Japan took the lead in the 20th minute, at a time when the game was finely poised when hardworking goalkeeper Andile Dlamini fumbled a harmless looking cross and striker Kumagai headed home the opener into an empty net.
South Africa’s Senior Women’s national team immediately responded from this early setback but there were always chances of leaving gaps at the back which the hosts continued to exploit.
Meanwhile, on the 31st minute, Leandra Smeda who earned her 100th cap put Kgatlana through but her pass was a bit too heavy and Japan survived.
Dlamini then parried away a ferocious shot from Sugasawa before Jermaine Seoposenwe responded with a rasping shot that forced Japan goalkeeper Yamashita to make a low smart save.
With the visitors searching for the equaliser, they were dealt a major blow when defender Lebohang Ramalepe who had a great game, lost possession inside her own area and Sugasawa punished Dlamini with an audacious lob to make the scoreline 2-0 with minutes to go before halftime.
Soon after the break, Kgatlana evaded the Japan defence but her angled shot came off the upright as the visitors almost cut the deficit into half.
The entire second half was a ding dong affair and action swung from one end to the other but there were no further goals in the match.
Banyana Banyana will play Japan again in an unofficial practice game at the same venue on Monday before flying back home on Tuesday and landing at OR Tambo Airport on Wednesday morning.