JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana striker Rhoda Mulaudzi says it will be important for the team to have a few tricks up their sleeve when they meet an organised Chinese side in a Women’s World Cup clash at Parc des Princes in Paris tomorrow night.
The South Africans had a nightmarish entrance to the global showpiece as they suffered a 3-1 loss to Spain in the opening round of Group B matches.
But despite being pointless and bottom of their group, coach Desiree Ellis’s troops are still in with a chance of making the knockout stage – through a top-two finish or finishing among the best four third-placed teams.
However, that will require them to dig deep as any points dropped now will be damaging to their aspirations.
Up next for Banyana is a quick and organised Chinese team, the eight-time Asian Champions who lost their opening match 1-0 against Germany having failed to convert numerous chances.
“With the experience that I have about them from playing abroad, immediately when they receive the ball in the field of play, they know what they are going to do with it. Another plus is that they are playing together in Europe,” Mulaudzi said of the Chinese.
“We have to switch on and press them at all times. We need to force them into committing mistakes and make sure that we capitalise. It’s very important for us to go into this match with a solid plan.”
Ellis has assembled a squad with a strong overseas base, which could be their lucky charm if they are to indeed achieve the improbable of making the knockout stage at their first attempt.
Thembi Kgatlana and her Beijing BG Phoenix FC team-mate Linda Motlhalo may have been the closest points of reference for Ellis during her analysis of the Chinese.
But Mulaudzi, the Australian W-League’s Supporters’ Player of the Season following her impressive exploits for Canberra United, believes their game-plan should be about dealing with China’s quick feet.
“They are very quick with the ball and they normally play on a two-touch system. We are also capable of stopping them and we have quick players that we can use to our advantage,” she said.
“Having seen how they play, we can try to adopt a similar style of play where we know what to do with the ball and when. We also have quick players up front and in the middle, we just have to come up with a plan of how to break their defence.”
In their opener, the South Africans conceded two penalties after Janine van Wyk was penalised for a handball inside the box, while Nothando Vilakazi was red-carded for a reckless tackle inside the penalty area. Not only did the review decision by the controversial Video Assistant Referee award Spain the advantage but South Africa were down to 10 women after the influential Vilakazi received her marching orders.
Mulaudzi, though, is optimistic they can cause a major upset.
“We were strong enough against Spain but we were let down by little incidents. We are ready for any team that comes our way. I think we sent that message to China and Germany,” she concluded.