1 June 2019 – Midfielder Sibulele Holweni led Bantwana (U-17 Women’s National Team) at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, today she is on her way to her second World Cup tournament with Banyana Banyana.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup takes place in France this month (from 7 June to 7 July).
“I am very happy to be heading to my second world cup in such a short space of time and I appreciate the help I have been getting from many people, and this came very unexpectedly. My plan was to get a team overseas first then work my way towards Banyana Banyana, but I still think I can make it work. It is simply unbelievable that now I am here,” said Holweni.
“What makes me more happy also is that many of us here are kids from the junior teams – the likes of Linda Motlhalo, Jessica Williams, Bongeka Gamede, Mapaseka Mpuru, Tiisetso Makhubela and Karabo Dhlamini, whom I have know since 2015. Being at Banyana Banyana with them makes a huge difference. It simply means our progress is going well, pity some players have not made it this far yet or did not want to continue with the journey.”
Holweni says it is a huge jump to be in the senior team as the levels are not the same.
“The difference is that in Banyana Banyana there is a lot of aggression. The pace and the intensity of the game is high, you have to think quicker on your feet than when playing at U-17 level – the decision-making has to be spot on at Banyana Banyana level,” added Holweni.
So high was her confidence and the trust from the coaching staff that she made her debut against women’s football powerhouse, the USA last month.
“The debut against the USA was exciting and I believe it can help me to get some game time in the world cup. But then again, we must also take into consideration the coach’s game plan – because at this level you don’t just say I will use these players for the match, but you first analyze the opposition and then pick the players based on that – but if truth be told, yes I would love to play in the World Cup. Even though it would be my second one, it is still a great honour to play in the tournament, no matter how many times one does it. So I still have the drive to play,” added the player known as Msawawa.
She will be hoping to also get a run against Norway, the final friendly match in Banyana Banyana’s preparations for the World Cup.
Playing Norway, who are ranked 12thin the world, is a good thing for us as the help us prepare better for the likes of Spain, China and Germany who are ranked 16th, 13thand 2ndrespectively,” said Holweni.
“After that match we are heading to the World Cup, and obviously the nerves and excitement are there and will always be there – but we have to manage them. We don’t have to be too nervous or too excited because if we get to that level it may turn into a negative mental state and we cannot allow that – we have to stay positive.
Banyana Banyana vs Norway kicks off at 20h00 in Amiens.
The squad will travel to Le Havre immediately after the game to prepare for the first clash of the World Cup against Spain on 8 June at Stade Océane.
South Africa is in Group B with Spain, China PR and Germany.
SIBULELE HOLWENI FACTFILE:
*** 2ND WC TOURNAMENT – U17 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: URUGUAY 2018 ***