Bantwana head coach Simphiwe Dludlu is excited about returning to action but admits that working on the fitness of the players will be a big challenge following a long lay-off due to Covid-19.
The South Africa U17 Women’s National Team reported for camp on Tuesday at the SAFA Technical Centre in Johannesburg as coach Dludlu gets her 2020 COSAFA Women’s U17 Championship preparations underway.
Coach Dludlu has called up a squad of 33 players that will be whittled down to 20 players before departing for Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay with the COSAFA U17 Women’s Championship set to start from November 5-13.
The former Banyana Banyana international is well aware that working on the match fitness of her stars will be difficult and tricky.
“We last got together in March and with a number of new players in the squad for the first time, getting everyone ready for the tournament in this short space of time will prove a bit tricky,” said Dludlu after her side’s first training session.
Bantwana will battle it out with Comoros, guest nation Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe in a reduced field of five teams to take part in the tournament. Botswana pulled out recently due to the competition clashing with final exams of most players.
Dludlu and her troops will be looking to improve on their last showing in the 2019 COSAFA U17 Women’s Championship where they finished second following a 2-1 defeat in the final against Uganda.
As the most successful COSAFA nation in the U17 age-group having twice before qualified for the FIFA Women’s U17 World Cup in 2010 and 2018, Bantwana are favourites to clinch the 2020 COSAFA title.
South Africa are also still in with a chance of sealing a place at the 2021 FIFA Women’s World Cup in India, where they will face Morocco in the final round of qualifying.
After a bye in the first round, they edged Zambia 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the third stage. Zambia won the first leg 2-0 at home, but South Africa roared back to claim the second 3-0.
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By FARPost Reporter
All pictures courtesy of SAFA