South Africa’s women’s team Banyana Banyana faced their toughest task against the United States of American on Saturday night.
Both teams used the friendly international to prepare for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Banyana survived an early scare after a defensive error in the box, while USA’s Julie Johnston missed a sitter to hand the hosts the lead after 15 minutes.
The home side were dominating possession and four minutes later, SA defender Janine Van Wyk made a great defensive block to deny the U.S.A.
Seven minutes later the visitors were forced to make a substitution after striker Shiwe Nogwanya went down with a suspected broken elbow, and stretchered off the field, with Sanah Mollo taking her place.
On the half-hour mark Mallory Pugh found some space just outside the Banyana Banyana box and she unleashed a good shot which narrowly missed the target.
USA eventually broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, as Mallory Pugh’s cross from the left found Crystal Dunn, who converted from close range, 1-0.
At the start of the second half Pauw introduced Nompumelelo Nyandeni for Robyn Moodaly, a move that paid dividends as South Africa slowly got back into the match.
But the visitors had to be alert in the 48th minute when defender Nothando Vilakazi cleared off the line with a header.
Vera Pauw opted to make a change on the hour mark and introduce Amanda Dlamini for her 100th cap for the senior national side.
Banyana fashioned their first effort at goal in the 68th minute when Van Wyk unleashed an effort from distance, although USA goalkeeper Hope Solo was not troubled.
Injured Octovia Nongwanya had been replaced by her Banyana teammate Sanah Mollo in the 23rd minute as SA head coach Vera Pauw was forced into a change.
Nyandeni is now the second-highest capped player.
Thembi Kgatlana then entered the fray in place of Seoposenwe and shortly thereafter had the best chance for South Africa to level the scores but did not make use of the opportunity.
Bambanani Mbane was Banyana’s last substitution as she checked in for Vilakazi with three minutes remaining.
However, the result is hugely encouraging for Banyana, who are lightyears behind the progress of the USA women’s national team but were not embarrassed in any way.