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    Wednesday, August 2, 2023

    South Africa Women stun Italy to secure last-16 spot in World Cup

    South Africa scored an added-time winner to stun Italy 3-2 at Wellington Regional Stadium to book their last-16 spot at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Wednesday.

    The Banyana Banyana will now face the Netherlands in the knockout stage following a thrilling win over Italy, who would have advanced with a point.

    Italy took the lead after 11 minutes when Arianna Caruso scored from a penalty spot after Chiara Beccari had been fouled by Karabo Dhlamini. Robyn Moodaly’s swerving shot struck the post 20 minutes before South Africa were levelled in the 32nd minute.

    This was when Benedetta Orsi’s misplaced backpass skidded past her own goalkeeper Francesca Durante. Beccari almost restored Italy’s lead in the first half when her header came back off the post but they fell behind midway through the second half. This was when Thembi Kgatlana slipped a clever pass through to Hildah Magaia to finish beyond Durante.

    Kgatlana was then denied by a flying save from Durante which proved crucial minutes later when Italy equalised. This was after Caruso flicked out a leg to deflect substitute Cristiana Girelli’s header beyond Kaylin Swart.

    Girelli was denied from close range by a superb save from Swart before South Africa regained the lead decisively in the second minute of added time.

    This was when Kgatlana finished at the near post from Magaia’s pass to send her team into the next round.

    Player-of-the-match Magaia has now scored two goals at the 2023 finals and is the first player to score more than one goal in a single edition of the Women’s World Cup for South Africa.

    Milena Bertolini, Italy’s coach expressed disappointment after the match, saying that it was unfortunate all their hard work failed to pay off in the end.

    “We’re very sorry because we worked hard to get through, but we didn’t succeed. I don’t think this group lacked understanding, the girls are very good together.

    “Maybe there was a little fear, the five goals against Sweden took away our certainties and it showed in the first goal we scored ourselves.

    “Today, the main opponent was not South Africa but ourselves.

    “I’m very convinced of the choices I’ve made, I think these are the best players and I think there will be a good future for this national team,” he said.

    Bertolini noted that the World Cup also served to raise young girls that Italian women’s football will meet in the future.

    “My future doesn’t matter so much, only the future of the movement matters.

    “I hope I have left a legacy with this young team, who have had an important experience and that the movement will find itself again in the future,” he said. NAN

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