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S.African goal hero Magaia likely to play despite painful exit

Hildah Magaia is likely to be fit for South Africa’s second match at the Women’s World Cup after fears her tournament had ended in the act of scoring in the loss to Sweden on Sunday.

A distraught Magaia lay prone in the goal after falling heavily while bundling in the game’s opening goal of a 2-1 defeat in a wet Wellington.

Surrounded by team-mates and treated for several minutes, the forward eventually made a slow, tearful exit and could only watch on as Sweden fought back to secure victory in the 90th minute.

South Africa coach Desiree Ellis said injuries to Magaia’s hand and knee weren’t as serious as first feared.

“Unfortunately she couldn’t continue, it was her debut goal at the World Cup, but she should be ok for the next game,” Ellis said.

South Africa have a five-day turnaround before facing Group G rivals Argentina in Dunedin.

They will hope to regain the services of striker Magaia, who netted both her nation’s goals in the 2-1 win over Morocco in the final of last year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Ellis said her team’s performance justified her pre-tournament prediction that they would be no pushover in their second World Cup appearance.

She said her 54th-ranked side have improved markedly since going winless in France four years ago.

“I think we’re more mature now,” she said.

“You know, 2019 to 2023 are different teams. Players are playing at good clubs abroad and our league is getting better.

“It’s not where we want to be because we still have an amateur league back home but the players have gotten better.

“When we first came to the World Cup all of us were newbies.”

Ellis said supporters in South Africa would be “rejoicing in the street” at the fight shown by her side.

“They’ve shown resilience, they’ve shown bravery and we said people would find out what South Africa is about this time around,” she said.

“We went toe to toe with the number three team in the world. It took a superhuman effort from them to get the result.

“Even though we lost, I think it’s still a positive result.”

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