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Women’s World Cup: Marta’s Brazil suffer first group exit since 1995, South Africa achieve historic feat

Brazil failed to make it out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup group stage following a heartbreaking 0-0 draw against Jamaica on Wednesday.

Despite kicking things off in Group F with an emphatic 4-0 victory over section minnows Panama, ‘Canarinhas’ faced a must-win final round after a 2-1 loss to France in their second game.

Widely regarded as the greatest female footballer of all time, veteran forward Marta led the charge at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium as Pia Sundhage’s side searched for an all-important triumph.

As the Women’s World Cup all-time top-scorer with 18 goals, the Orlando Pride superstar hoped to make history by scoring in a record-breaking sixth final tournament.

However, Jamaica’s tremendous defensive effort fended Marta off as ‘Reggae Girlz’ kept Brazil goalless to progress as Group F runners-up without conceding.

In addition to reducing the South American giants to tears at the final whistle, the Jamaicans became the first nation to hold Brazil scoreless in 24 Women’s World Cup matches.

While Jamaica achieved a historic feat, qualifying for the tournament’s knockout phase for the first time, Marta’s last appearance at the Women’s World Cup coincided with the team’s first group-stage elimination since 1995.

France, who put Brazil in this position in the first place, featured in the most prolific game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup as Herve Renard’s ladies dismantled lowly Panama 6-3 in the other Group F fixture.

After becoming the first coach to win a match at the Women’s World Cup and the Men’s with the abovementioned success against Brazil, Renard inspired Les Bleues to a fourth straight knockout qualification.

Panama took an early lead through Marta Cox, suggesting they could upset the apple cart at the Sydney Football Stadium.

But Kadidiatou Diani’s first-half brace, accompanied by goals from Maelle Lakrar and Lea Le Garrec, catapulted France to a cruising 4-1 lead at the break.

Diani completed her hat-trick in the 52nd minute, earning a Player of the Match award as the European heavyweights sailed to the top-table finish in Group F.

In Group G, Sweden netted an unanswered second-half double to sink Argentina 2-0 and secure a top-place finish with all three wins and a +8 goal difference.

South Africa defied the odds in the other Group G encounter, fighting back from an early deficit to beat Italy 3-2 and seal a first-ever knockout qualification.

Thembi Kgatlana’s stoppage-time winner broke the Italians’ hearts and guided ‘Banyana Banyana’ to a historic maiden win at the Women’s World Cup.

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