The South African U17 Women’s National Team, Bantwana, are out in Morocco to play two international friendly matches against the host nation.
Led by Head Coach Simphiwe Dludlu, and her assistant, Unathi Mabhena from JVW, the squad of 24 has been selected from an array of clubs and football institutions – the likes of SAFA Academy, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies, Sunflower WFC, University of Cape Town, Cape Town Roses, Springs Home Sweepers and Dangerous Heroes.
The aim is to get them quickly accustomed to international football before they start the 2024 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
“We’ve got a lot of newbies and some of them were practicing the national anthem because they understand the requirement. 90% of the players are new and they are showing signs of being excited, signs of being brave. We also have some of the Sundowns Ladies players here, they won their VW Vaya Cup and went to play against FC Porto – that for us is a bonus because they’ve played at an international level, even though it was club level. So, we’ve got a bit of experience here and there and this is the beginning of them playing together in these qualifiers. We are lucky that Morocco brought us in, and we are able to play in two matches, we hope this is the start of great things where we expose our players prior to big qualifiers and all of that because we know how hard it,” Dludlu told SAFA.net
Bantwana, who have been in a training camp in Johannesburg since 20 October, jetted out of South Africa on Wednesday (25 October), and will face Morocco on Friday (27 October) at the Mohammed VI football complex in Salé.
The return leg will be take place on Monday 30 October 2023 at Père Jégo stadium in Casablanca.
“I wouldn’t say we are 100% ready for the match, but we will only get the answers when we play the game. I think we’ve tried to do most of the basic things in making sure that we start a base for them to understand the standard of play in the national team. The second thing is for us to make sure that they understand what is required of them in terms of the standard. The third thing is them understanding how to play with each other at this level in terms of the intensity, the difficulty, and also understanding that we have to play at a level where it’s an international standard,” said Dludlu.
“Everything will tell with the first match. Some of these players are travelling for the first time out of the country, and never mind just out of the country, but on a flight. Some of them are still recovering from the jet lag and all of that. What’s key for us is to have a framework that we’ve started with and we’ll test it in the first match and see the technical organisation, and if they are able to play under pressure, and we’ll take it from there.”
For the 2024 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers, South Africa has been drawn against Ethiopia in a two-legged tie.
Bantwana is one of the nations that got a bye in the first round, and enters the competition in the second round scheduled for 2 – 11 February next year.
Should they proceed to the third round, they will face the winners between DR Congo and Kenya in May 2024.
The fourth and final round is pencilled in for June 2024, where only three nations will be determined to represent the African continent at the 2024 FIFA U17 Women’s Cup that will be held in the Dominican Republic from 16 October to 3 November 2024.
This will be the eighth edition of the competition, and it will host 16 teams from six confederations. It will be the first time the tournament is held in the Caribbean country.
Spain are the defending two-time champions.
In the India 2022 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers, the South Africans had a bye in the first round, were then handed a walkover after Kenya withdrew in the second round, but fell to Ethiopia in the third round in the two-legged tie, 3-0 and 1-0.
U17 WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM SQUAD IN MOROCCO
|Bonolo||MOKOMA||Centre back||JVW FC|
|Lulamela||VENA||R-back||Cape Town Roses|
|Nomfundo||MOTAUNG||Left back||Springs Home Sweepers|
|Alvina||NWANSOH ENOH||Defender||University Of Cape Town|
|Sethabile||KAMWANDA||Defender||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|Lindelwa||MABUZA||Midfielder||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|Bonolo||PHOSHOKO||Central midfield||Tuks Football|
|Katleho||MALEBANA||Midfielder||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|Thulisa||JULY||Midfielder||Cape Town Roses|
|Adrielle||MIBE||Left wing||University of Johannesburg|
|Nompilo||DLAMINI||Winger||Springs Home Sweepers|
|Gugu||MABITSELA||Striker||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
CAF U17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS – SECOND ROUND FIXTURES:
|Team 1||Aggregate score||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg|
2024 FIFA U17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS SCHEDULE:
|FIRST ROUND||1st leg||8-10 December 2023|
|2nd leg||15-17 December 2023|
|SECOND ROUND||1st leg||2-4 February 2024|
|2nd leg||9-11 February 2024|
|THIRD ROUND||1st leg||10-12 May 2024|
|2nd leg||17-19 May 2024|
|FOURTH ROUND||1st leg||7-9 June 2024|
|2nd leg||14-16 June 2024|
By Matlhomola Morake