Bantwana coach Simphiwe Dludlu chuffed with U-17 Women's World Cup spot
Posted: 19 February 2018 Time: 09:15
South Africa U-17 women's team coach Simphiwe Dludlu hopes her side's qualification for the U-17 Women's World Cup inspires more girls to take up football.
Bantwana booked their spot at the FIFA showpiece in Uruguay with a 6-1 aggregate win over Morocco.
"The feeling is surreal, you know," said Dludlu after her charges beat the north Africans 1-0 on Saturday courtesy of Sibulele Holweni's goal midway through the second half at Stade Boubker Ammar.
"I guess making it today finally put me at ease because going into the game first of all was nerve-wracking. It was not fear of the unknown, but mixed feelings of thinking are we really on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup. Are we really at this stage of the journey.
"But from the beginning it has been a challenging journey, yet very exciting at the same time as well. We were on a mission and that one mission was to allow ourselves to dream, and dreaming big was qualifying for the World Cup. First stop was around South Africa, getting the team together and second stop was Uruguay, and that is what has happened.
"So as a team it's not just a milestone that we've achieved. We are excited about the growth of women's football in the country. We are excited by the interest that will be sparked by us qualifying - to that young girl out there that wants to play football, that doesn't believe she can have a career or can dream of kicking a ball as a girl."
Dludlu expected the Moroccans to get physical in the rematch.
"It was something we were expecting, that they were gonna come out firing at us, playing with nothing to lose. They are going to come kicking us, rushing us, pressurising us. But the most important thing was for us to stay calm and disciplined. We almost played into their game by wanting to be physical as well, by not sticking to our style of play. Yes, were playing away but it was very important for us to stick to our guns and play the way we want, even though it was extremely difficult because of the surface of the pitch. It was hard so the bounce skids away from you. There isn't really anything to grasp on when you plant your foot before taking off and stuff like that.
"But I think the girls showed a lot of character because they played with such resilience, and they said if we are not gonna score then the Moroccans must not get anything. And that's exactly how they played on the field. We were planning to score goals, unfortunatley we couldn't score as many as we wanted to, though we created a lot of chances, open-net chances, but we just couldn't net that ball. But I think as a team we can see where we are going."