19 December 2017 – Interim head coach of the South African U17 Women’s National Team, Simphiwe Dludlu, has admitted that they are excited yet nervous at the prospect of facing Morocco in the second and final round of the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

Bantwana will host Morocco in the first leg on the weekend of 2-4 February 2018, then travel to North Africa for the second leg scheduled for the weekend of 16-18 February.

The overall winner will book their place at the tournament, which will take place in Uruguay from 20 November to 13 December.

“Thinking about the clash against Morocco I become nervours because it is not the fear of unknown but it is the fear of how my players will surprise me. We are excited because we signed up to be a part of this, and we have to sit in the kitchen and stand the heat, so we are really looking forward to conquer Morocco,” said Dludlu.

“We are two matches away from qualification and we know that Morocco is going to be a tough nut to crack. The travel also all the way to the north of our continent is going to be a lot, but it’s part of the game. They played to a 1-1 draw in a match against Nigeria, which shows they are not easy customers. But we will plan accordingly and be ready for them.”

Bantwana proceeded to this round after defeating Botswana 6-4 (11-6 on aggregate) at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday, 16 December 2017.

South Africa’s goals came from Karabo Dlamini, Thambolinye Mzoneli, Thubelihle Shamase, captain Kaylin Jordaan, while Miche Minnies grabbed two.

But Dludlu is concerned about her defence which let in six goals in two matches. They conceded two in the first leg away in Botswana, and four at home.

“I am happy with the development of the game because the girls are getting better. They are learning, and we must also understand that a lot of them were playing their first or second caps. We had a lot of positives, but the negatives would that we conceded a lot of goals – some we couldn’t help, some we could have avoided but through all that we cannot take away the fact that Botswana came here with a plan,” added Dludlu.

“Now we need to go back to and do a thorough review of this match. We need to check how we conceded the goals – were the girls tired, were the legs getting heavier, were they not positioning themsleves well, or was there is lack of communication, or did the keeper coming out too early or too late – all those things we need to look into, talk about and rectify. We need to ensure we get better at our defensive duties, but I think it is better to concede now and rectify things, than to concede at the tournament.”

With a break of over a month before the next match – which includes the December holidays, Dludlu will be hoping that her charges keep in good condition for the upcoming tough assignment.

“We will be givng them programmes to train with, because we know they will be indulging during the festive season and will come back a few kilos heavier. We need to be proactive as coaches and keep on checking them throughout this period. We are in the process of getting a friendly match in January before taking on Morocco so that we are ready when the time comes,” said Dludlu.

“If I had my way, I would be in camp the entire period, but then again you are dealing with young ones and we have to be considerate and do with what we have. “

The 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup will be the sixth edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup.

North Korea are the defending champions.

The former Banyana Banyana defender has also conveyed her xmas message.

“I would like to say to everyone take care of yourselves because you only have one body, let’s not drink and drive. Let’s us celebrate this period with our families, have fun in the process and take the much needed rest so that we come back in one piece and refreshed, ready to conquer in 2018. Let us also be ready to experience bigger and better things in women’s football. Thank you  for the support that you gave undoubtedly to me and the entire team, keep safe and let’s meet again next year for more challenges which, I believe, we are all ready for. Merry Christmas and a prosperous and safe 2018 to all of you and your loved ones,” concluded Dludlu.

SA U17 Women’s National Team remaining matches:

2-4 February 2018

South Africa vs Morocco

16-18 February 2018

Morocco vs South Africa