South Africa, Nigeria lose opening Women’s World Cup games

Soccer Football - Women's World Cup - Group B - Spain v South Africa - Stade Oceane, Le Havre, France - June 8, 2019 South Africa's Thembi Kgatlana and Refiloe Jane look dejected after the match REUTERS/Phil Noble
Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Group A – Norway v Nigeria – Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims, France – June 8, 2019 Nigeria’s Faith Michael reacts to her team’s loss at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

South Africa and Nigeria both suffered defeats in the opening group games of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

South Africa lost 3-1 to Spain at the Stade Océane in Le Havre while Nigeria lost 3-0 to Norway at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.

In Group B, World Cup debutants South Africa took a shock lead against Spain when Thembi Kgatlana scored with a stunning right-footed strike after 25 minutes.

The South Africans went into halftime ahead despite Spain being the better side.

After the break, Spain maintained their pressure and it paid off when they were awarded a penalty. Captain Janine Van Wyk was adjudged by referee Maria Carvajal to have handled the ball in the area. Jennifer Hermoso scored the resulting penalty to level the game.

Spain was awarded another penalty on 81 minutes after Nothando Vilakazi’s late challenge which saw her receive a second yellow card. Hermoso converted the penalty to put Spain ahead.

Lucia Garcia then put the game beyond reach in the 89th minute after she went past keeper Andile Dlamini to score her first international goal.

In Group A, a first-half blitz by Norway saw them beat Nigeria 3-0.

Strikes from Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Utland and an Osinachi Ohale own goal gave the 1995 world champions a strong lead which they never relinquished.

Nigerian defender Faith Michael was stretchered off after a collision with team-mate Tochukwu Oluehi.

South Africa is bottom of Group B and next face China in Paris on Thursday. Nigeria is third in Group A and next plays South Korea in Grenoble on Wednesday.