Cape Times

Ode dreams of scoring winner against Spain

‘Each player knows that Norway game didn’t represent who Banyana are’


ODE Fulutudilu has chosen to focus on the silver lining of Banyana Banyana’s 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Norway on the eve of their maiden appearance in the World Cup.

Banyana were given a rude reminder of where they are as a team in relation to some of the best sides in the world. A defeat of that nature would demoralise any team, especially ahead of going into uncharted territory, but Fulutudilu isn’t just any player. She has seen her family leave not one, but two countries to escape war. The 29-year-old’s family left the Democratic Republic of Congo when she was just three-years-old to escape the civil war, only to meet something similar in Angola before making their way to Cape Town.

If she didn’t look at the silver lining of that trek, she probably wouldn’t be in France as part of Banyana’s first team to play at the World Cup. Banyana will start their campaign against Spain tomorrow in Le Havre before taking on China next Thursday and then end their Group B campaign against Germany on 17 June.

“Each player knows that the last game didn’t represent who we are,” Fulutudilu said. “Honestly, it could play well for us in terms of giving Spain a false sense of who we are. In that way it could lead to them dropping their guards a little bit, that can only work well for us. If this means we will get out of the group stage, we will take this loss and humiliatio­n any time and any day because at the end of the day it’s just our image that took a knock, and our confidence just a little bit. We can use it to our advantage instead of allowing it to break us down.”

The Spain-based forward is driven to do well against players she knows well, but who probably don’t know much of her. Only three players in Spain’s 23-women World Cup squad play outside the country’s borders. The 20 play in the Primera Division, the elite league in Spain’s women’s football. Fulutudilu plays a division lower than that for Malaga.

“The greatest achievemen­t would be to score the winning goal against Spain,” she said. “For the team it would be to win the first game, there is nothing else that would top that. The first game is extremely important because if we could win that game, it would give us the foundation to continue and do well. If we can’t get something from the first game, then it’s going to be a long road for us in terms of getting out of the group.”

This World Cup has been a long time coming for Banyana. She was there when the team failed to qualify for the 2015 World Cup by finishing fourth at the 2014 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Namibia. She disappeare­d from the national team setup after that, only to return when World Cup qualificat­ion had been secured.

“Each player is looking forward to it,” Fulutudilu said. “Yes, nervousnes­s will be there, but everyone will be up for the fight.”

 ?? SYDNEY MAHLANGU BackpagePi­x ?? ODE Fulutudilu is driven to do well against Spain tomorrow. |
SYDNEY MAHLANGU BackpagePi­x ODE Fulutudilu is driven to do well against Spain tomorrow. |
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