2 December 2017 – Interim head coach of the South African U17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana), Simphiwe Dludlu, says the 5-2 victory over Botswana in the first leg first round of the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifier was a fulfilling result.

Bantwana came away victorious with goals from Karabo Dlamini, Thambolinye Mzoneli, Jessica Wade and Miche Minnies as well as an own goal from Botswana in a match played on Friday, 1 December 2017 at the Lobatse Sports Complex in Botswana.

“I expected the girls to play well. I have been saying despite us not having an international match as a team – the girls have only trained together as a team for ten days – it was a fulfilling result,” said Dludlu.

“Four different goal scorers, that’s every exciting, even a 14-year old scored a brilliant goal from a free kick. It is rewarding that a team that was playing together for the first time is scoring goals. I am happy with the score line, even though we conceded two goals, but you gain experience as you play and you become smarter.”

This was the first international match ever for most of the players in the South African U17 Women’s National Team, and they came out with flying colours.

“I had two debutants who are only 14 years old and they played like seasoned players – it just indicates the amount of work they put in when they are at their clubs. They forgot that they are playing their first international game and that they were playing outside the country – because for most it was the first time they were outside South Africa,” added Dludlu.

But the former Banyana Banyana international says they will not allow complacency to creep in for the second leg as there is still a lot to be done.

“5-2 is the first leg score, and when we walk onto the field for the second leg it will be 0-0 – we will start afresh. What we are not going to do as a team is to be complacent because this Botswana team came back from a defeat against Zambia and turned the tables in the second leg so we should be very careful in our approach. The positive thing about us is that we scored so many goals away from home and that will work in our favour,” said Dludlu.

This was also the first coaching stint at national team level for the player that was once the captain and defender in the South African Senior Women’s National Team (Banyana Banyana).

“It was nerve wrecking. I have played so many times for my country and I have always been the bravest because I knew what I could give on the field but now I had to put my trust in 17 young players to execute my dream, my plan and our dream as a team. But one thing that kept me calm was when I looked at their faces they were calm and confident, they said to me ‘coach we are nervous but it’s good nerves’ and I was also very nervous,” added the Bantwana mentor.

“But it was really an honour and a privilege to be sitting there and leading the team – this time not as a captain but as a coach, and giving instructions with everyone looking at me and saying coach what next? That was really breath taking for me. I will continue sacrificing as much as I can to make sure that I add value to women’s football in South Africa especially on the side of development.”

With Equatorial Guinea having pulled out of the qualifiers, Morocco now becomes the only hurdle in the way of Bantwana to book their place in the World Cup in Uruguay. But Dludlu doesn’t want to get carried away.

“We are taking every game as it comes, right now our focus is on facing Botswana at home – the reality is you can’t help but also look beyond that match. We need to play as much as we can and prepare well for the next round to test and strengthen our team with some friendly matches before we play the final round. To be honest we are focused on Uruguay, because we are a team that dreams big,” concluded Dludlu.

The South Africans are back home after their victory in Lobatse.

Eight members of the squad will be playing in the upcoming 2017 Sasol League National Championship in Nelspruit, which kicks off on Monday, 4 December 2017 – Yenzokuhle Ngubane, S’phumelele Shamase, Thubelihle Shamase, Yolanda Nduli (all Sunflower FC – KZN), Karabo Dhlamini, Oratile Mokwena (both Mamelodi Sundowns – Gauteng) and Precious Choshi (Kanatla Ladies – Limpopo), Thembelihle Masibi (De’Scorpion – North West).

The club competition ends on Saturday, 9 December and immediately thereafter they will return to the national team camp.

Bantwana will host Botswana for the second leg on Saturday, 16 December 2017 at the Dobsonville Stadium.

Kickoff is at 15h00.

Entry is free.