The South African Women’s Olympic Team has been knocked out of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after suffering their second loss in the tournament.
Banyana Banyana were defeated 2-0 by China on Saturday night (6 August) at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
In the first match they lost 1-0 to Sweden at the same venue on Wednesday, 4 August.
In the other Group A match, Brazil booked their place in the quarterfinals with a clinical 5-1 victory over Sweden to move to six points and remain top of the group – they beat China 3-0 in their first match.
The hosts have now scored eight goals in two matches, and conceded only one.
China and Sweden have three points apiece but the Asians are second on the table due to a better goal difference.
Banyana Banyana are yet to score a goal or register a point – and it could have been so different had they taken their chances in an exciting first half against China.
South Africa’s head coach Vera Pauw had made two changes to the starting lineup that lost to Sweden – bringing on Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo for Shiwe Nogwanya and Amanda Dlamini.
Kgatlana was drafted into the official squad of 18 players following an ankle injury to Shiwe Nogwanya, who has been ruled out of the tournament.
As early as the first minute, South African striker Jermaine Seoposenwe received a pass from Thembi Kgatlana and when she was clear on goal she shot straight to the Chinese goalkeeper.
Seoposenwe was back in the thick of things in the 12th minute, this time reacting to a pass from Refiloe Jane but her shot was blocked in the nick of time, and China cleared the danger.
Another clear chance was lost three minutes later when Seoposenwe hesitated in front of goals.
Then it was the turn of the Chinese to make an attempt at goal, but Roxanne Barker spread her body to deny them a great opportunity in the 17th minute.
Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk also got in on the action as she twice came to her side’s rescue with two crucial blocks.
At this point the match was moving from end to end and again Barker was called to make a pointblank save after her defence was penetrated.
China nearly found their reward for constantly attacking the Banyana Banyana goal – Li rounded Barker and with the net agape, ran out of space and the ball went out of play.
Van Wyk then rattled the crossbar in the 43rd minute to give her side hope after a rebound from her own freekick.
But it was to be heartbreak for South Africa during the referee’s optional time.
China finally beat Barker after a defensive lapse – and they led 1-0 at the break through a Gu Yasha goal.
The second half was a completely different affair for South Africa as they could not play and were chasing shadows, with the midfield in disarray.
Three times in a space of six minutes – 72nd, 76th, and 78th – Barker was called upon to make crucial saves to keep the scoreline respectable, with her defence letting her down.
But there was nothing she could do with a long range shot from Tan Ruyin. Just after crossing the centre line, she unleashed a powerful shot that beat Barker in the 87th minute to increase China’s lead to 2-0, putting the result beyond doubt.
Barker, however, never dropped her head as she made another great save in the dying minutes of the game with her defence in disarray.
Banyana Banyana travel to Manaus today (Sunday, 07 August 2016) for their final Olympic fixture.
They face hosts Brazil on Tuesday, 9 August at the Amazonia Arena.
Kickoff is at 21h00 local time (02h00 Wednesday, 10 August SA time).