The South African Women’s Olympic Team was knocked out of the tournament, with one match to spare, after suffereing a heart-wrenching 2-0 loss to China on Saturday, 6 August.
The second loss in a row meant it was the end of the road for Banyana Banyana – they were defeated 1-0 by Sweden in the first match.
“I am very gutted and disppointed. If we had played our game it would have been a different story, both games were in our hands but we gave them away. In a few days time I will be proud of what we did because we have grown so much and performed so well against top teams, that is something we should compliment the players for and of course my hardworking staff, but at this moment I am gutted. We had a very good first half but we were not happy with the second half,” said Pauw.
South Africa could have wrapped up the match in the first 45 minutes as opportunity after opportunity to score presented itself, but they failed to convert. And in the second stanza nothing worked for them as China dictated terms.
“We highlighted at half time that we have to play the space behind the defence, I think we tried to force it, instead of playing our own game. This is a match we could have won in the first half had we scored. It would have been a different game because you can defend an advantage instead of having to hunt for a goal, and eveyone knows that being ranked on 52nd in the world, that is very difficult. It was a very unfortunate loss against Sweden and then not scoring one of the great four chances in the first half meant we could not proceed, it’s very disappointing,” added Pauw.
But she had great praise for goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, who, despite letting in two goals, was exceptional as she kept the scoreline very low.
“She was fantastic and I hope everybody has seen that despite the little mistake she made against Sweden, which proved to be a big mistake for the team, she has done so well in both games. She kept us in the match against Sweden and did the same against China, so it’s disappointing but I have nothing but praise for her,” said Pauw.
Now Banyana Banyana will face a team that is on top form. Brazil has collected six points – they beat China 3-0 and followed it up with a resounding 5-1 win over Sweden.
“We are going to Manaus, thousands of kilometres away, without any purpose actually. So we need to find motivation and play for the experience of a full stadium against the host nation and make the best out of it,” said the Banyana Banyana mentor.
“We will do everything we can to get a positive result, that means we will try to win but also bear in mind they were three nil up against Sweden in the first half without any effort. It will be very difficult because they are the most mature team I have seen, and also most professional, I haven’t seen any weak points in their play so it’s going to be a tough one but we will give it our all.”
Brazil is top of the group with six points, China and Sweden are tied on three points each, while South Africa is yet to score a goal or get a point in the competition.