The South African U-17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana) is back home after a successful outing in the inaugural 2019 COSAFA Women’s U-17 Championship that was held in Mauritius.
The squad returned home on Monday, 30 September after winning silver following a 2-1 loss to East African guest nation, Uganda in the final played on Sunday (29 September).
Bantwana head coach Simphiwe Dludlu, was however complimentary of her charges despite not bringing the cup home.
“If you had asked me three weeks if we would bring back any medal, I would have said no. These players have really outdone themselves considering that this is a completely new team with the exception of about three players – but they had to quickly be fast-tracked to test themselves to the limit and get to know each other in the process,” said Dludlu.
“What I saw during the tournament has given me hope that there is a lot of talent in this country, all they need is to participate in the competitions for them to get better – and on that score we have to say thank you to the COSAFA U-17 organisers for this inaugural tournament as it helps us a great deal as coaches to build good and strong teams.”
“It’s always good to plough back after years of playing the game.” Bantwana head coach, Simphiwe Dludlu
This has been a hectic period for Dudlu who was in charge of the U-20 Women’s National team in the COSAFA about two months ago – where she won bronze. She followed it up with a trip to Morocco with nearly the same squad for the All Africa Games, and were knocked out in the group stages. Now she is back where it all started – the U-17 team that she took to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay in 2018.
“We are servants of the game. It’s always good to plough back after years of playing the game. I am just happy to see the many players coming through the system as this augurs well for Banyana Banyana. After years of trying to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we managed to do so in France, so we can’t back down – we have to aim at the next tournament, and tournaments like the COSAFA Cup can only assist in developing players,” added Dludlu.
The former Banyana Banyana captain was also full of praise for her captain – Jessica Wade, who led the team with aplomb and was named Player of the Tournament.
“I don’t like singling out players because the entire team worked hard, even those who were on the bench. But I must say that Jessica is a hard worker, she hates losing and plays with a lot of passion. I have been watching her progress over the years and she is destined for great things. I am so proud of her because as a captain, she led from the front and I am not surprised she managed to score goals and walk away with the top award – Player of the Tournament,” said Dludlu.
“She was also in the U-20 squad that played the COSAFA Cup and you can see that she is gaining a lot of experience with all these games. Young as she is, I will not be surprised if she is called up into the Banyana Banyana squad. I always say we should afford the kids an opportunity to play and they will grow from that – not only that but also they forge more than just friendships,” she ended.
Photo 1 Caption: The South African U-17 team in training during the COSAFA Women’s U-17 Championships in Mauritius. The Simphiwe Dludlu-led team were runners-up after losing to Uganda in the final. Photo: SAFA.net
With editing by gsport