JOHANNESBURG – The South African Football Association (Safa) president, Danny Jordaan, promised the Under-17 women’s national team “at least” 10 competitive matches to prepare for the World Cup in Uruguay later this year.
Bantwana qualified for the global showpiece despite not playing a single competitive match to prepare for the qualifiers against Botswana and Morocco. That didn’t stop them from realising their goal even though only three members of the squad had international experience prior to their clash with Botswana.
But the World Cup will be more competitive which will require Bantwana to prepare adequately if they aren’t to be embarrassed like the class of 2010 who returned from Trinidad and Tobago having conceded 17 goals in three matches including a 10-1 thumping by Germany.
“We are one of three teams who will represent Africa in the World Cup, the other two are Ghana and Cameroon,” Jordaan said yesterday at Safa House in a press conference held in honour of Bantwana. “Now this is the preparation phase with qualification assured. We have to find the balance between football and studies because they are all still at school.
“The technical team will have to put together a programme of at least 10 matches leading up to the World Cup, that includes going to Europe to play European opposition. It will be quite a demanding programme but we mustn’t neglect them doing well at school. Women’s football has been a great strength of achievement for this country.”
The European tour will include a trip to Spain that Jordaan promised this team as an incentive for qualifying for the World Cup. Coach Simphiwe Dludlu and her technical team will devise the programme to help Bantwana prepare leading up to the global showpiece in November.
Dludlu would love those preparations to start against either Ghana or Cameroon to see where they are on the continent.
“The growth of women’s football in the country has been significant,” Jordaan said. “We now have more than 450000 women footballers. We want to grow women’s football to see at least one million football players by 2022.
“We want to launch the women’s league in 2019 because in 2020 Fifa is launching a world women’s league. We want to be a part of that. For us to be a part of that Banyana Banyana must be one of the two best teams on the African continent.”
Seven of the 16 teams which will appear in the World Cup have been decided.
Bantwana joined hosts Uruguay, Ghana, Cameroon, New Zealand, Japan, North Korea and South Korea. The draw will be conducted on May 30 after European, North American and South American representatives have been confirmed.
“We want to be one the best representatives from the African continent,” Jordaan said. “CAF has 54 members, only three of us will be there. We need to show that African teams won’t just go there to get knocked out in the first round. We want to be there right until the end.
“The coach made that commitment to us, that we must book your return tickets after December 1.
“I don’t know what you will be doing in Uruguay should you not reach the final. So you must prepare well. We must make Africa proud.”