Bantwana skipper Kaylyn Jordaan (centre) in action against Burundi i November. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Kaylyn Jordaan wants to make up for last year’s disappointment as a leader of an inexperienced national women’s Under-17 team that starts their World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday afternoon in Lobatse, Botswana.

Bantwana take on Botswana at 3pm in the first leg of their 2018 U-17 World Cup qualifiers at Lobatse Sports Complex. Jordaan was part of the Bantwana team that lost to Nigeria last year in the final round of qualifiers for the 2016 World Cup that was played in Jordan. Nigeria thumped Bantwana 6-0 in Abuja before wrapping the tie up in the return leg with a 1-0 win at Makhulong Stadium.

That humiliation and international experience toughened Jordaan who will captain South Africa on Friday afternoon.

“I didn’t expect to be named captain,” Jordaan said. “I was just praying that I am selected as captain. But now that it has happened, I just want to say thanks to the coaches and I am prepared to lead the team into doing good and going to the World Cup. 

"It means everything for me because back home (in Cape Town) there aren’t that many opportunities. Coming here and being the captain is a big thing for me. I am able to make my family and friends proud.”

The 15-year-old cut a shy figure in front of the press, but expressed herself eloquently with the ball at her feet. The former High Performance Centre defender is an important asset for coach Simphiwe Dludlu as she is part of the 1% with international experience in the squad.

The clash away to Botswana will be the squad's first competitive match as they didn’t get any international friendlies to prepare for a tough team that came back from 5-2 down to win 4-0 in the home leg and advance to the second round with a 6-5 aggregate win over Zambia.

"The spirits are high,” Jordaan said. “Everybody helps each other. Everyone is there for one another. When one is down, there is always someone to pick them up and help them to be a better player. We are a team. The understanding on the field is getting there. We haven’t played together as a team, but we are prepared to come together and do good.”

Bantwana will look to get a good result in Lobatse and wrap up the match at Dobsonville Stadium on December 16.

They will face either Equatorial Guinea or Morocco in the last round of qualifiers should they get past Botswana. Nigeria humbled Jordaan and company in the final round of qualifiers last year.

“It’s very important for us to qualify for the World Cup,” she said. “If we qualify, let me rephrase that, when we qualify for the World Cup - we will be able to make history, change our lives and make South Africa proud. It was painful when we failed last year. But I am positive that we can do it this year.”

The Star

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