31 May 2018 – Head coach of the South African U17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana), Simphiwe Dludlu, says her side will be up against the best of the best, and will need to be fully prepared for what lies ahead.
She was speaking after draw for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 was conducted at the Headquarters of world football in Zurich on Wednesday, 30 May 2018.
The tournament runs from 13 November to 1 December.
South Africa has been drawn in one of the toughest groups – they are in Group B with Brazil, Japan and a representative from CONCACAF.
The CONCACAF representatives will only be decided between 6 and 12 June 2018. Six teams will battle it out for three spots in the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship, to be held in Florida, USA.
Those teams are USA, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bermuda and Haiti.
“I would not say its an easy draw because all the teams that we are grouped with are experienced as they have been there before. If you also look at the CONCACAF teams that still have to qualify, the favourites USA, Mexico and Canada, and don’t forget Haiti because they surprised everyone and qualified for the U20 Women’s world Cup. So this certainly tell you that whichever team we will get from CONCACAF is also not going to be an easy side to play,” said Bantwana head coach Simphiwe Dludlu.
Brazil will be making their fifth appearance at the soccer showpiece. They also qualified for the last world cup in 2016, only missing out in 2014. The South Americans have twice finished in the quarterfinals – 2010 and 2012.
“Brazil has done well in this competition – they have qualified four times of the five times since 2008 at the inception of the tournament. That tells me that they have a lot of experience. In the last tournament they were knocked out in the group stages,” added Dludlu.
“Brazil is known as a footballing country and their development structures are a little better than us as they start playing from an early age – and that put them at an advantage than most countries, especialy the African continent.”
Japan has now qualified for their sixth World Cup, and were champions in 2014.
“Japan is a very impressive team, and it comes as no surprise because we know the Asians teams always do well in international competions, especially China and Japan – with the latter the most successful team even at senior team level,” said the former Banyana Banyana defender and captain.
South Africa will attending their second FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup. They were last at this tournament in 2010, led by Solly Luvhengo where they were elimanted in the group stages.
Dludlu says for them to better that, they will have thoroughly prepare.
“The long and short of it is that it is not going to be an easy one. We will be up against the best of the best, which makes it clear for us that our planning needs to be very vigorous. It must be the kind of preparation that says we know what we want, and must include a lot of friendlies. We need to expose our team to international football as much as we can before the tournament,” said Dludlu.
“Obviously you can never be fully prepared for a tournament of this magnitude, because there is a lot that goes into it but we need to make sure we are at a certain standard because these are teams that mean business. This is not to put fear upon us but for us to be aware and not to be naïve and say this is just a draw, the truth is it is not just a draw. We have to do more research about our opponents, watch their games, study them and be able to go back to our games and improve. We need to work even harder going forward.”
Bantwana’s first match in Uruquay will be against a CONCACAF opponent on Tuesday, 13 November and the clash will take place at Estadio Domingo Burgueno in Maldonado.
They will then take on Japan on Friday, 16 November at the same venue.
For their final group stage match, South Africa will travel to Montevideo to face Brazil on Tuesday, 20 November at Estadio Charrua.
In the opening match of the tournament, hosts Uruguay will take on Ghana in Montevideo.
The forthcoming World Cup in Uruguay will be the tournament’s sixth edition. As things stand, only Finland will be making their debut.
Bantwana 2017 FIFA World Cup Fixture:
Tuesday, 13 November
CONCACAF vs South Africa
Estadio Domingo Burgueno
Friday, 16 November
Japan vs South Africa
Estadio Domingo Burgueno
Tuesday, 20 November
South Africa vs Brazil
FULL FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2018 Draw:
Group A: Uruguay, Ghana, New Zealand, Finland
Group B: CONCACAF 1, SOUTH AFRICA, Brazil, Japan
Group C: CONCACAF 3, Cameroon, Korea DPR, Germany
Group D: Korea Republic, Spain, CONCACAF 2, Colombia