South Africa’s journey to junior world football resumes. The South African U17 women’s national team coach Simphiwe Dludlu is hoping her current crop of players will qualify yet again for the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup; Bantwana resumes their qualification journey as they host Ethiopia in the first leg of the third round, Friday 15 April 2022 from 14:30.

Bantwana didn’t get to play in the last round of the qualifiers as their opponents, Kenya, were disqualified from the competition after the Kenya Football Federation was suspended by world football governing body, FIFA. Dludlu says this might pose a disadvantage to her players who haven’t competed in a while:

“When Kenya cancelled and we withdraw from that competition eeeh its good news for someone else but for us it wasn’t exciting news because we would have wanted to have an official match to play, so that at least the players could have some mileage underneath their feet where we get the nerves out then we have a real opposition and a real everything you know, the setup, the referees, traveling so that they can really face it early on. So now Ethiopia will be one up against us so that means they will at an advantage against us because they have played to leg matches and they know what they are preparing for”

Ethiopia eliminated Uganda from the qualifiers after a 3-3 aggregate score, with two away goals giving them an advantage. The former Banyana Banyana captain says they are wary of the side from the Horn of Africa.
Having not played in the last round and having only one player with national colours, will prove a challenge for Bantwana. But Dludlu hopes that this team will build up for the future.

By Busisiwe Mokwena

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