Superb Argentina comeback earns South Africa draw


Tiisetso Makhubela of South Africa (L) fights for the ball with Romina Nunez of Argentina (R) during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group G match between Argentina and South Africa at Dunedin Stadium on July 28, 2023 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Argentina manager German Portanova told his team to “play with the love that optimises our football” before they produced a stunning comeback from two goals down to draw with South Africa.

South Africa were on course to pick up a first ever Women’s World Cup victory in a pulsating encounter in Dunedin but in the end they had to settle for their first point after Argentina scored twice within five second-half minutes.

Knowing defeat would take Argentina to the brink of elimination, they threw everything at Desiree Ellis’ side in the second half and were rewarded for their endeavour.

Substitute Romina Nunez headed in Argentina’s second goal after a superb half-volley from Sophia Braun had stunned South Africa.

“I told them to play, have fun, dribble and play their best games. That’s why we are here. They are wonderful players,” said Portanova.

“I wanted to see them playing with that love that optimises our football. We were a bit slow in the first half. In the second half we changed and there was a huge feeling. We moved ahead with self-confidence.

“The thing I most admire about these players is the constant desire to grow. I’m really emotional about what they achieved.”

Glasgow City winger Linda Motlhalo gave South Africa the lead after being teed up by Thembi Kgatlana, who was shown to have stayed onside following a video assistant referee (VAR) review.

Kgatlana should have scored after the break when she sliced Jermaine Seoposenwe’s curling cross wide from close range, but the two combined later for South Africa’s second goal.

It was South Africa’s first point at a Women’s World Cup but for large parts of the game, they looked set for a historic win before their final Group G match against Italy.

Argentina face Sweden next, ranked third in the world, but have at least kept their tournament alive.

“We knew [today’s game] was at a favourable time slot for Argentina TV so it was important for us to promote women’s football and see us playing well,” added Portonova.

“They needed to see happiness in our eyes. I believe that at certain times we achieved this. They had self-conviction and were proud of the national shirt they were wearing.

“It was full of Argentinians in the stadium too. It is around 4am in Argentina for the Sweden game. Please follow us, wake up early – we will play our best match possible to win these three points.”

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