20 September 2019 – Head coach of the South African U-17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana), Simphiwe Dludlu, says they have to start strong if they are to have any chance of getting out of their group in the inaugural COSAFA U-17 Women’s Championship that kicked off in Mauritius today (Friday, 20 September 2019).
The South Africans arrived safely in the capital Port St Loius on Thursday and wasted no time in completing preparations for the tournament.
They held their one and only training session at the MFA Technical Centre on Friday afternoon.
Dludlu has selected a fairly new squad of players who are new to international football, but she is confident they will aquant themselves well in Mauritius.
“Our preparations were dI am quite impressed by how they have shaped up over the period since we started camp. All our preprations were done in South Africa to come this side ready and understanding how we want to play as a team –as a coach you can never have enough time to prepare a team –but the amount of time we got we managed to put together a team and be able to prepare for the competition,”said Dludlu from Mauritius.
“We played two practice matches before our arrival in Mauritius and what I saw there really gave me the confidence that we will do well in this inaugural tournament. Yes, of course as a coach you can never be one hundred percent satisfied, but you have to trust in the players and the process because that is very important as it could be the difference between winning and losing,”
South Africa is in Group B alongside Seychelles, Botswana and Madagascar. They open their campaign with a clash against Seychelles on Saturday (21 September). Next up will be Botswana on Monday (23 September) and wrap up the group stages with a fixture against Madagascar on Wednesday (25 September). All the matches will take place at St Francois Xavier Stadium.
“We are in a very strong group –I have never seen Seychelles or Madagascar play but I now in the COSAFA region we are improving and becoming better. Botswana is doing well with their Federation, their senior team knocked out our senior team in the Olympic qualifiers so that tells you development wise they are doing well and catching up with the rest of the continent, which means it is going to be a difficult job in the three matches ahead for us. I don’t think any team here is a walkover but all of them want to win the Championship,”added Dludlu.
“Key for us will be to start well because a positive result will give direction as to where the team is going –we don’t want to find ourselves scrambling for points in the last match of the group stages, that can put a lot of pressure in this young players and we need to protect them by doing well at the outset.”
The former Banyana Banyana captain has lauded the organisers for coming up with this competition, saying it will go a long way in helping in the development of young players.
“It is really great for COSAFA to have made the decision to have this tournament just like they did with U20. The tournament has kicked off, the tone has been set so you can see the standard is going to be competitive,”said Dludlu.
“We are just excited to be able to compete in this tournament and all we are looking for, more than anything, is to do well and see where we are because we are starting from scratch with this team –they still don’t know each other, they are still trying to find their feet and understand that they are in competition phase, but we are really looking forward to the tournament.”
Midfielder Jessica Wade has been named captain of the squad for the tournament.
SA U17 COSAFA FIXTURES:
Saturday, 21 September 2019
South Africa vs Madagascar
St. Francois Xavier
Monday, 23 September 2019
South Africa vs Botswana
St. Francois Xavier
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
Madagascar vs South Africa
St. Francois Xavier