NEW ZEALAND: In a thrilling encounter at the Women’s World Cup Group G, Sweden emerged victorious with a 2-1 win over South Africa, thanks to Amanda Ilestedt’s decisive goal in the waning seconds of the match in Wellington.
The third-ranked team, Sweden, faced stiff resistance from South Africa, currently placed 54th. Despite dominating possession, Sweden struggled to find the back of the net in the opening hour.
However, they improved over time and adapted to the game’s challenges, eventually securing a crucial win in their first match of the tournament.
South Africa, determined to secure their first World Cup victory after exiting the group stage without a point in 2019, showed resilience in defending against their higher-ranked opponents. They made some threatening counterattacks but were unable to convert their chances into goals.
Sweden had their share of missed opportunities, with captain Refiloe Jane’s long-range attempt sailing over the crossbar.
The South African defense also made some crucial stops, including Filippa Angeldal’s lone-stopping effort. However, Magaia managed to score South Africa’s second-ever World Cup goal after the break.
In the 66th minute, Sweden’s persistence paid off when Johanna Rytting Kaneryd’s cross deflected off defender Lebohang Ramalepe and Rolfo before finding the back of the net.
The strong South African defense held on bravely, but they couldn’t prevent Ilestedt’s header in the dying moments of the game.
Peter Gerhardsson, the Swedish coach, credited the win to his team’s hard work and preparation, emphasizing that it wasn’t a stroke of luck but a result of dedicated practice.
Looking ahead, South Africa will face Argentina in Dunedin, while Sweden will take on Italy in their next match on Saturday.
South Africa’s coach, Desiree Ellis, expressed pride in her team’s performance, particularly their handling of set pieces and the skills demonstrated by their forward, midfield, and defensive players.
Despite the loss, the team remains confident in their abilities as they progress in the tournament.