Football fans will surely switch on their watching devices to witness who trumps who when the Netherlands meet South Africa in what is billed to be an interesting spectacle at the Sydney Football Stadium on the sixth of August. Both teams have had different stories to get to this juncture of the tournament and will be looking to add more colour and intrigue to their respective stories. While this is the first competitive fixture between both international sides, having meant each other in only friendly matches previously, Netherlands will be looking to translate their superb friendly match H2H record to a competitive match where it is sure to matter more to help them continue their quest for the trophy. Despite this being just their second appearance at the Women’s World Cup, South Africa have shown that they are a force to reckon with on the pitch. All these factors make for an interesting spectacle, where each team will be looking to come out top and advance in the competition.
South Africa started the competition with a 2-1 loss to the Swedes, conceding a last-minute header from Amanda Ilestedt, albeit in a strong performance. While many claimed the team was having a one-off, even after winning the WAFCON prior to the tournament, the Bayana Bayana proved otherwise in a 2-2 draw against the Argentines, where they seemed to be picking up a win until the Argentines recovered from a bad start and equalized in the seventy-ninth minute, even pressuring the South Africans till the final whistle. This ensured their last group match against Italy would be a decider, and it did not disappoint, with South Africa scoring an unlikely stoppage-time winner through Thembi Kgatlana after conceding twice during the usual time, as it gave the Africans their first win at the World Cup and a straight shot into the knockout rounds.
The Netherlands started their own campaign on a good note, beating newcomers Portugal in a narrow 1-nil win at Dunedin Stadium. They next faced the United States, whom they lost to in the 2019 World Cup final. The draw must have awakened some bad memories, and they decided to banish it with a comprehensive 7-nil win over Vietnam. It seems the Netherlands have been superb at scoring goals while shutting them out, but South Africa have shown a propensity to score goals no matter the result. It remains to be seen how both teams will set up to limit each other’s attacking constructs while also trying to shore up the back.
The Netherlands are surely favorites, boasting the likes of Jill Roord and Lieke Martens, but South Africa, led by in-form striker Thembi Kgatlana and forward Hilda Magaia could call the shots in the final minutes in this thrilling knockout match.
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