12 January 2017 – With just two matches away from making history and becoming the first South African U20 Women’s side to make an appearance at a FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, Basetsana coach, Maud Khumalo believes mental toughness will be key in overcoming their hoodoo team, Nigeria.
The South Africans welcome the Falconets in a crucial first leg of the final round of World Cup qualifiers on Saturday, 13 January at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Both sides come into the match with a highly impressive record, setting up what is set to be two mouth-watering encounters between the two nations.
The West Africans have always had the upper hand against South Africa, something Khumalo believes can only change if her side is in a strong mental state and forgets about what the history records say.
“We have put a lot of effort in working on the players’ psyche for this match. We have a very talented group of players who can put up a good fight against any team. We have a lot of respect for Nigeria, they have done well on the continent but we have grown over the last years and should we be in the right frame of mind, I don’t see why we can’t the desired result” said a confident Khumalo.
South Africa beat Namibia 9-0 on aggregate before thrashing Burundi 5-2 on aggregate to reach the final round of qualifiers. The Nigerians on the other hand cruised past Tanzania 9-0 on aggregate before hammering Morocco 6-2 in the second round.
While South Africa is yet to make a World Cup appearance, Nigeria has featured in all U20 Women’s World Cups with their best performance being in 2004 where they reached the quarter finals in Thailand.
The FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup takes place between 5-24 August in France.