01 October 2018–A wry smile comes across Karabo Dhlamini’s face when she speaks about this year’s upcoming FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup Uruguay edition, and a fight which lies ahead of them as a national side.
And that’s mainly because the South Africa’s national women’s under-17 (Bantwana) attacking midfielder has full confidence that they have what it takes to progress into the knockout stages of the global showpiece.
In Group B, South Africa are pitted alongside Mexico, Japan and Brazil, all of whom have been on the world stage before.
Such stats however, do not scare the gifted Bantwana midfielder one bit. In fact, it is in the prospect playing on the world stage for the first time in her life which excites her.
“I believe that I speak on behalf all of my national team teammates when I say that the FIFA World Cup will serve as a perfect opportunity for us to be seen, and possibly get scouted by European teams.
“And that is my dream,” Dhlamini says.
“I want to play for Liverpool Ladies FC one day, though I am not in a rush. Even if I earn a move to go abroad in my 20s, that would still be fine by me. Fifi (Refiloe Jane) and Rhoda Mulaudzi have proven that it can be done.”
In their first friendly match during their six day Spain tour against UD Lavante Under-17s, Dhlamini did the unthinkable with the ball. The Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies FC versatile player scored from the halfway line to increase Bantwana’s lead to 2-0 just nine minutes in from the halftime break.
Bantwana went on to win that encounter 4-2. Against Valencia CF’s women’s Under-20s, Bantwana were held to a 1-1 draw.
Dhlamini added that the tour played a key role in highlighting just how strong they are as a unit, and believes that their positive attitude of playing for one another will see them achieving wonders in the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament.
“I must admit that I felt a bit nervous building up to the Spain tour,” Dhlamini says. “I truly thought that we were going to struggle massively against our two opponents. A lot of things were playing in my mind. It is only right after our first match against Lavante where I realised that we were actually stronger than I thought. We only drew against Valencia mainly because of a slight lack of luck we had in that game.
“And just looking at the upcoming FIFA World Cup,” Dhlamini adds. “I would like to see us reaching the tournament’s knock out stages and we will then take it one game at a time.
“I do not see why we should be too worried about other national teams who will be playing there. They are the ones who should be worried about us. We are in it for the long haul and we will do our best to go as far as we can in that tournament.”