March 2, 2024

World Cup NOW: Despite draw against Argentina, South Africa is on the rise

Argentina made it known that it is still alive and well in its 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup match against South Africa, scoring two goals in rapid succession in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw on Thursday night.

However, for much of the match, South Africa looked like it had firm control and seemed well on its way to earning the first victory in its World Cup history. 

The “World Cup NOW” crew — Jimmy Conrad, Leslie Osborne, Melissa Ortiz and Kate Gill — discussed the rise of South Africa and the rapid growth of soccer in African nations. 

Conrad: “I think this was a good look at the two sets of players. Obviously, South Africa having the two-goal lead and losing it will feel more like a loss, whereas Argentina coming back from two goals is going to feel more like a win, but they still are on one point each in Group G. … These African nations are closing the gap and are obviously a threat from a USWNT perspective. We crossover with this particular group. I don’t know that I would want to play South Africa. They look good, well at least for 70 minutes. Maybe I wouldn’t mind playing them after the 70 minutes, but I think the infrastructure is happening, just not as fast as we would like to see.”

Osborne: “Yeah it is interesting. Nigeria is a team that has played in the last nine World Cups, a team that we are very familiar with and they are very difficult to play against. They have had the talent, but you’re starting to see the African sides — and you’re seeing it with South Africa especially — being able to put more of a structure and defensive discipline together. These were teams you could always beat, Nigeria included, based on the lack of defensive discipline on set pieces. They always looked disorganized, and now you see federation support but a more disciplined approach. You’re getting better coaches and instilling better game plans that come from great programs that know how to organize them.”

Ortiz: “Absolutely, and I think that going on this trend and the performances from the players — they have a voice now. And I think also living on this digital platform of Twitter, social media has been an important platform for these players to use. Because not only do you have the support of teammates and fans, but you also have the support of so many followers or fans. You have a voice and a chance to speak out about all the things you want and things you need to succeed. So I think from this moment on, this is a big turning point. And for Argentinian fans, this result today, coming back at the end, will only give them motivation into this next game.”

Check out the full Women’s World Cup schedule and how to watch each match live here. Find the latest scores here.

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