Bant­wana mak­ing good progress: coach

African Times - - Sport -

THE South African U17 Women’s na­tional team, Bant­wana, en­ters a very cru­cial week as they at­tempt to qual­ify for the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup that will be played in Uruguay from 13 Novem­ber to 1 December.

The South Africans have been in camp since Mon­day, 20 Novem­ber, and will face neigh­bours Botswana tomorrow, Fri­day 1 December 2017. The match will take place at the Lo­batse Sports Com­plex in Botswana. Kick­off is at 15h00.

To pre­pare for the match, Bant­wana played against a boys’ team from Shumba Academy on a wet Satur­day (25 Novem­ber) in Bed­ford­view.

While the squad lost the match, in­terim head coach Sim­phiwe Dludlu is not wor­ried about the re­sult.

“While we would have love to win the match, the re­sult do not re­ally bother us be­cause we needed to get some in­for­ma­tion about our team from this match, and we got plenty of it. It was im­por­tant for us to have this ex­er­cise be­cause we have been work­ing on a cer­tain way of play­ing as a team – in de­fence and at­tack – and so far I have an idea of what we are about,” said Dludlu.

“The girls have ap­plied what we have been teach­ing them through­out the week, so I am quite happy with the ma­jor things that we have been work­ing on, ob­vi­ously it’s not 100 per­cent but it’s work in progress.

“So far so good, I think we are on the right track.”

Of the 23 play­ers in camp, only two have played for the na­tional team – de­fender Kay­lyn Jor­daan from Cape Town, as well as mid­fielder Sibulele Hol­weni from the Eastern Cape.

And for that rea­son, Dludlu was quite im­pressed with the per­for­mance of her charges.

“What I saw in this match gives me a bit to smile about even though an in­ter­na­tional friendly is very dif­fer­ent from a prac­tice match against the boys or any other club – there is the psy­chol­ogy part of it where you are in a big proper sta­dium, you are singing your na­tional an­them, you are wear­ing your na­tional team kit and every­thing is in­tim­i­dat­ing,” added the former Banyana Banyana de­fender.

“In a prac­tice match you get off the bus and play, as though you are at a train­ing ses­sion.

“But I am very happy with the girls’ de­ci­sion mak­ing in cer­tain mo­ments, in in­di­vid­ual spa­ces as well as a team. I was quite im­pressed be­cause some of them are giv­ing me ex­actly what I need from them.

“Some we still need to work on, but the good thing is that I have an idea of what we have and I will not be go­ing to the World Cup qual­i­fier blind – not know­ing how they will be­have like or how they will re­spond dur­ing an of­fi­cial match.

“This ex­er­cise was key and opened my eyes to many things.”

Dludlu gave all the play­ers a run in the prac­tice match, ex­cept for Hol­weni, who was nurs­ing an injury.

De­spite the in­for­ma­tion she got from the match, Dludlu says she has still not come close to her starting lineup.

“In this game it is dif­fi­cult to say who will be starting, es­pe­cially when we are still left with about a few days of train­ing, be­cause some of the girls that I saw just the other day are giv­ing me some­thing dif­fer­ent in a prac­tice match.

“But I have an idea of the com­bi­na­tions l want to play – at the end of the day you need to pick the best for the job, and I am con­fi­dent closer to match day I will know where we are,” con­cluded Dludlu.

Bant­wana de­parted for Botswana on Wed­nes­day, 29 Novem­ber. The sec­ond leg is sched­uled for Satur­day, 16 December 2017 at the Dob­sonville Sta­dium.

Kick­off is at 15h00. –

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