JOHANNESBURG – The South African Football Association (Safa) is dangling a juicy Spanish carrot in front of the Under-17 women’s national team that is 90 minutes away from qualifying for the World Cup.
Bantwana left this morning for Morocco carrying a 5-1 lead from the first leg of the last round of qualifiers. Should they defend this lead on Saturday at Stade Boubker Aamar in Sale, they will become the second generation to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup after the class of 2010 that featured Banyana Banyana striker Jermaine Seoposenwe.
But Uruguay, hosts of the youth global showpiece from November 13 - December 1, will not be the only overseas country coach Simphiwe Dludlu’s team will travel to if they get a positive result in Morocco. Safa president Danny Jordaan promised Bantwana a trip to Spain as a reward and they could possibly even play against the Spanish national team.
“It would be the first time that this generation and this technical team are involved in a global competition,” Dludlu said. “How we prepare up to a point we can go to the world stage and perform is going to be crucial. We need to grow as a team because in youth football the result is seeing the players’ progress and grow.”
Dludlu continued, “Being able to absorb and understand information is part of that growth with the aim of executing it and performing at the highest level. Those are all the aspects as coaches that we are looking to improve. If there is something you are looking forward to, you work hard to achieve it. That’s what this promise has sparked in us.”
Jordaan gave the team words of encouragement before their last training in the country yesterday afternoon in Soweto.
“I am sure you will agree with me that if they qualify for the World Cup, they would put smiles on our faces and we must put smiles on their faces too,” Jordaan said. “It’s a well-deserved carrot. We would be happy for them to be amongst the best footballing nations in the world. The coaches and players would also benefit from that (trip to Spain and going to Uruguay for the World Cup).
The Spanish La Liga together with the Spanish Federation launched a league for women’s football and it has had amazing success. The stadiums are full and the quality of football is very good. It’s good for them (Bantwana), at a young age to go there and play against young Spanish players. Spain has done remarkably well in women’s football in a short time.
“Many of them told me that they will be flying for the first time (in their trip tp Morocco). We have to nurture and support them because this is the Banyana of the future.”