Banyana Banyana Lose with Dignity to Sweden at 2012 Olympics

By Editor | July 26th, 2012 5 Comments

Guest Post by Chris Bolsmann (c.h.bolsmann [at] aston [dot] ac [dot] uk)

COVENTRY–In a week when South African cricketers and golfers recorded convincing victories, a hat trick of results would have seen South Africa’s women’s national team celebrate their first appearance at the Olympic Games by beating Sweden. But facing a team ranked 4th in the world, Banyana Banyana (Zulu for “the ladies”) could not pull off the miracle win.

The South Africans met their Swedish counterparts in Coventry, 100 miles north of London, in the second match of a double header. Japan beat Canada 2-1 in the early game in front of 18,000 spectators, while the 2011 World Cup third-place finishers defeated South Africa 4-1.

Normally called the Ricoh Arena and home to Coventry City FC, the City of Coventry Stadium looked quite different from its normal appearance full of advertising hoardings. The Olympic organisers were not quite able to cover up all of Coventry City’s history though, as a photo of the 1987 FA Cup winning team adorned one of the stadium walls.

While Banyana Banyana have always worn the yellow and green colours of the South African Football Association, this time the squad entered the pitch in a horrible-looking green and white vertically striped kit, courtesy of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s official kit supplier: Erke, from China. The crowd had dwindled to a few thousand for the second match and the majority of photo press had left the stadium. A small contingent of South African fans remained who were vocal throughout but were outnumbered by Swedish fans and locals who supported their European neighbours.

Sweden kicked off and, ominously, twice hit the cross bar in the opening six minutes. The Scandinavians went ahead in the 7th minute thanks to a Nilla Fischer shot from outside the box that was cruelly deflected past United States-based Roxanne Barker in the South African goal. Then the Swedes again hit the cross bar and doubled their lead in the 20th minute when Lisa Dahlkvist poked home a ball from the flanks. A minute later Sweden scored a third goal when South African stalwart Janine van Wyk was beaten for pace on a through ball and Lotta Schelin slotted past the on rushing South African keeper. After 21 minutes Banyana’s debut had turned into a nightmare and a real humiliation was on the cards.

The South African midfield were constantly over run by the more forceful and creative Swedes and the defence were outpaced on numerous occasions, allowing for the Swedes to cross balls into the box at leisure. To her credit, Barker dealt well with crosses and high balls and remained calm under constant Swedish pressure.

The second half saw Banyana kick off with far more purpose and creative intent. In the 60th minute, Portia Modise, a former World Player of the Year nominee, dispossessed a Swedish midfielder well within the South African half and from inside the centre circle unleashed a wonderful strike to beat Hedvig Lindahl. Modise’s goal restored South African spirits and momentarily gave South African supporters some hope. But three minutes later Schelin got her second goal of the match and restored the three-goal margin.

The final quarter of the game saw South Africa struggle with fitness and the match ended with a resounding victory for the Swedes. Sweden had over 57% possession and outshot South Africa 21 to 7. Banyana Banyana were outclassed by a technically superior and fitter Swedish side. After the shock of allowing three goals within 25 minutes, Banyana settled and showed a few individual moments of skill but were unable to retain possession for any length of time. It won’t get any easier in this tournament for South Africa: they face Canada on Saturday and World Champions Japan the following week.




July 26th, 2012 | 11:34 am    

Thanks Peter for shrign the link. Thank you very much Chris for the interesting piece, I feel bad because I am here in the UK because I could not go see the game. Your piece Chris has however made it all up for my missing this game. You are right, it was always going to be very difficult anyway for Banyana Banyana to go through that strong Swedish side. I like the point of the outfit, when COSATU complained about this crazy kit, they were said to be petty fools…and that the Chinese ‘sponsored’ the damn thing, I did not like the whole arrangement, I did not like the kit when it was unvailed…and I am not not going to like it anytime soon. This aspect reminds me of my team back home, Orlando Pirates, when it puts on a shirt we do not like, the loss would be even more difficult to bare.\thanks folsk again!

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July 26th, 2012 | 12:33 pm    

[…] Is Coming Home: Chris Bolmann’s report on South African women’s opening game where they lost to […]


July 27th, 2012 | 2:52 am    

Nice report, Chris. The first 20 minutes were particularly scary from the Banyana Banyana point of view, living very dangerously and then conceding three. However, if anyone scores with a better strike in the tournament I’ll be surprised. Very pleased for Portia Modise.


July 27th, 2012 | 7:18 am    

Thanks for this post Chris.

For those of us who missed it, check out the video of Portia Modise’s goal here:

I suspect Banyana’s semifinal vs Equatorial Guinea at the 2010 African Nations Cup would have had a different scoreline had Modise been in the squad back then (see Unfortunately, then-coach Augie Makalakalane’s homophobia kept her and other players out of that side. Thankfully, SAFA fired Makalakalane soon after that tournament.

Let’s hope that in the future (A) Banyana players will be selected on the basis of their footballing qualities and not sexual orientation, and (B) they will get a proper new kit!

Solomon Waliaula

July 28th, 2012 | 12:41 am    

Good piece. Banyana Banyana should take that defeat positively. I actually imagine that the results of the Swedish (male) team verses Bafana Bafana, wouldn’t have been better. And Modise’s strike! Yes, it made us proud. Banyana Banyana just needs to work on their midfield, especially the defensive midfield, so that they can hold up the ball, cushion their defende, cut out those dangerous crosses, and that way, could make life a lot difficult for opposing teams.

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