7 October 2023 – South African women’s Under-20 coach Maud Khumalo is happy with the progress that her team is making ahead of the two FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup second round qualifiers against Burundi this month.
The South Africans face the Burundians at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday (8 October 2023) in an “away” match and then the two sides return to the Atteridgeville venue to play the second game on 11 October 2023.
“The preparation have been going very well and we see improvement with regards to the girls, to the players each and every day,” Khumalo said.
“Going into this game against Burundi, most of the players are new. I am happy that we managed to have at least two camps before these matches and two friendlies to prepare, to see where we can fix, and help the girls understand the nature of the game.”
The process for this FIFA u/20 Women’s World Cup started with the training camp that was held in August at the SAFA National Technical Centre, Fun Valley in which a 44-member team congregated for a week-long camp.
“In that camp, we looked at other players to see their level, if they were good enough to be part of the Under-20 team. This now is our second camp and we have selected most of the players who were in the previous camp (in August 2023). We have added a few other players so that we have a strong squad. We are building a team that is meant to feed Banyana Banyana in a few years’ time, so we are building to the future.”
Khumalo said they expect a tough outing against Burundi in the two matches.
“I think the nature of the game, as we know, the African teams, they are physical, they are strong, so it’s going to be more of a game of tactical awareness and also energy versus strength, and also the mental strength. But we are looking good, the players are ready and they continue to rise to the occasion every day.”
Burundi arrive in South African on Friday (6 October 2023) and as they do not have approved stadiums, they approached SAFA to play their home match in the country. They will stay on after Sunday’s game and play the second qualifiers on 11 October 2023.
“We are ready to take on Burundi, we’re ready to compete and it’s a blessing in disguise because were meant to play the first match away, but now we have got the advantage of playing (both matches) here at home,” said Khumalo. “This gives us a bit of an advantage, but we’re not going to be complacent and think that just because we’re playing at home, everything’s going to go our way. The reality is we expect them to come at us with everything they have got. We need to make sure that we do not concede, we create a lot of opportunities and convert them into goals so that when we go to the second game, we don’t have that much pressure on us.”