National women’s Under-17 team coach Simphiwe Dludlu. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

JOAHNNESBURG - The South African Under-17 women’s national football team coach Simphiwe Dludlu is nervous about Bantwana’s trip to Morocco even though her team has one foot in the World Cup that will be played in Uruguay from 13 November - 1 December.

Bantwana thumped Morocco 5-1 at Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday in the first leg of the final round of qualifiers. Dludlu’s girls did that despite finishing the match a player down after Karabo Dhlamini was sent off in the second half. 

Bantwana played with a lot of confidence which should make this generation the second to represent SA at a Under-17 World Cup, after the 2010 class that included Jermaine Seoposenwe.

“I am still nervous,” Dludlu said. “I know that these are good nerves. These are the nerves that are saying to me it’s not over yet. These are the nerves that are reminding me that a game of football has two halves and things can go either way. 

“It’s nerves that are reminding me that we have to go back to the drawing board and see what we did good, maximise that and limit the mistakes we made. I am not complacent and the girls will definitely not be complacent. I don’t think that we have one foot in. 

“We still have both feet out because a lot can happen in a fortnight. They can come back stronger. I am just praying that we don’t have any injuries and the girls return to camp stronger to jump over the last hurdle with flying colours.”

Bantwana’s defence improved dramatically, conceding just one goal after conceding six times in two legs against Botswana in the previous round. That defence will need to be alert in Sale next Sunday with a place in the World Cup up for grabs. 

If they can hold onto their lead they will join hosts Uruguay, New Zealand, South Korea, North Korea and Japan who have already qualified for the global showpiece.

“Qualifying for the World Cup will mean that we have to do more as a country,” Dludlu said. “We are just scratching the surface at the moment. We will need to do more in terms of development structures with academies that have qualified coaches who are training the girls with the vision of producing players who will compete on the world stage.

“Get them out of the country as soon as possible. Linda (Motlhalo) is only 19 and she is going to the USA (after signing with Houston Dash). We need to be doing that consistently. There’s a lot of talent out there.

“We just need to look after it and make sure that it is motivated, protected and well-looked after so that we consistently play against the best in the world in such competitions.”

The Star

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