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Yalla Shoot :Argentina v South Africa: Women’s World Cup 2023 Group G – live | Women’s World Cup 2023

Key events

20 mins: A couple of players are down after an awkward tangle of legs and bodies, and we might see a South African substitution, an unfortunate turn this early in the game.

MT Bran writes: “Greetings from Jacksonville, FL. Will the teams tonight surpass the 58,791 passes you reported the Dutch completing in last nights game?”

Let me think about this for a second … um, no. This has not been a possession-heavy encounter so far.

18 mins: Drop ball in the South African area, which gives us a chance to notice that the referee looks like she’s wearing a goalkeeping jersey and vice versa. It’s very strange. More importantly, South Africa plays it ahead quickly and works it to the left for Magaia, who has looks exceptionally tricky and dangerous so far.

16 mins: Argentina earns a corner and … where is the keeper?! Swart makes an absolute mess of it and ends up in front of her defenders while they contest possession with the Argentine attackers.

They finally clear, but Gramaglia brings it back into the South African penalty area before putting a cross behind one of her teammates, spoiling a promising spell for Argentina.

14 mins: Nominally, South Africa is playing with one forward, but Kgatlana looks like two or three players out there. She is covering a lot of the field.

Argentina gets a bit of possession on the left, where Banini may have a chance to get to work.

12 mins (still): A turnover in midfield, and the ball is played quickly ahead to Kgatlana. Mayorga barely wins the foot race and stops the South African attack.

12 mins: Sophia Braun, from Oregon by way of Gonzaga and Liga MX side Leon, takes a throw-in about a foot from the corner flag.

10 mins: Now it’s Argentina’s turn to attack – not that teams are required to take turns, this not being American football. A cross in the air nearly finds two Argentine players, and if that sounds like a spacing problem, that’s because it is.

9 mins: Kgatlana draws a foul at midfield. Then there’s a lovely through ball, but Argentine keeper Correa has experience to spare, and she’s alert to the danger.

7 mins: Cesane turns a couple of Argentine defenders into knots on the right flank.

Nothing too concrete to report thus far, but this has the looks of a fun one. Both teams really need a win to have a realistic shot at the next round.

5 mins: The stadium in Dunedin is “the world’s first permanently-roofed stadium with natural turf,” according to a trade publication.

Both teams are showing some attacking intent.

2 mins: Corner kick to South Africa.

It’s really bright in the stadium they call the Greenhouse. The crowd is … not full. New Zealand fans really haven’t shown up for this. In fairness, it’s not the most populous country in the world.

Peter Oh is watching: “I don’t speak Spanish, but am surprised that the nickname is El Motorcito, not La Motorcita. Speaking of names, Stabile shares a legendary one with the leading scorer of the 1930 men’s World Cup.”

Speaking of similar names – I learned yesterday that Casey Phair, the youngster on South Korea’s team, is the niece of a friend of mine who lives about a mile away from me. It occurred to me that they had the same last name, but I somehow didn’t think they’d be related. Small world. But, as Steven Wright said, I wouldn’t want to paint it.

Our referee is …

… someone who didn’t have to travel far. Anna-Marie Keighley is from New Zealand. This is her third World Cup. Assistant referee Sarah Jones is also on home soil, while the other AR is Samoa’s Maria Salamasina.

I don’t make a habit of talking about other games while I’m doing one of these, but we haven’t kicked off yet, so I’m going to be contrarian once again and suggest this – Vlatko Andonovski made the right decision by not bringing in a sub late in the US women’s draw with the Netherlands. They were dominating play. No one seemed tired. Why disrupt it?

South Africa lineup

Goalkeeper: Kaylin Smart (JVW)

Defense: Bambanani Mbane (Mamelodi Sundowns) and Bongeka Gamede (University of the Western Cape) are in the center. Like Mbane, the fullbacks are from former African champion Mamelodi Sundowns: 21-year-old Karabo Dhlamini, who did not play against Sweden, is on the left; Lebogang Ramalepe is on the right.

Midfield: The two players listed as “2” in a 4-2-3-1 are two players based outside South Africa – captain Refiloe Jane (Sassuolo) and Linda Motlhalo (Glasgow City). The wingers are based in Mexico – Jermaine Seoposenwe (FC Juarez) set a Liga MX record for fastest goal (nine seconds) last year, while Noxolo Cesane (Tigres) is on the left. The star player here is attacking mid Hildah Magaia (Sejong Sportstoto), who staked South Africa to the lead against Sweden.

Forward: Thembi Kgbatlana’s resume doesn’t end with her current club (Racing Louisville). She formerly played with Atletico Madrid and has 22 goals for her country.

Argentina lineup

Goalkeeper Vanina Correa (Rosario Central) spent six years out of the sport after giving birth, then came back for her third World Cup in 2019. She’ll turn 40 next month, and she showed against Italy that she’s still a stubborn impediment for any team.

Defense: Aldana Cometti (Madrid CFF) also impressed against Italy. Her fellow center back, Miriam Mayorga (Boca Juniors), is also a doctor. Left back Eliana Stabile (Santos) is a strong set-piece taker. Sophia Braun (Club Leon), who hails from the Pacific Northwest, is on the right.

Midfield: Lorena Benitez (Palmeiras) is the defensive anchor here. On the right is 20-year-old Paulina Gramaglia (Red Bull Bragantino), who’s on loan to Brazil from the Chicago Red Stars. Florencia Bonsegundo (Madrid CFF) is in the middle along with Daiana Falfan (Deportivo UAI Urquiza). Old-school NWSL fans will remember Estefania Banini (Atletico Madrid), a dangerous dribbler who’ll operate on the left.

Forward: Mariana Larroquette (Orlando Pride) is the starter.

Subs: One of the better nicknames at the World Cup, “El Motorcito” (the “little engine”), is bestowed upon Romina Núñez (Deportivo UAI Urquiza), the only midfielder to earn a rating of 7 against Italy in The Guardian’s analysis. She’s on the bench along with 21-year-old Dalila Ippolito (Parma).

Preamble

Will we see a team win a World Cup game for the first time?

Barring a draw, yes. Neither of these teams has found that breakthrough yet. And both teams gave up late goals to lose their openers in this Cup, which means someone needs a win to have a reasonable chance of advancing.

Even if you follow the global game closely, the names in these lineups will likely be unfamiliar. But their first games – and indeed, this Cup as a whole – have shown us that we really can’t rule teams out by how they look on paper.

Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Anita Asante’s look at what’s becoming a World Cup of the unexpected.

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