12 January 2018 12:25
With just two matches away from making history and becoming the first South African U-20 Women’s side to make an appearance at a FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Basetsana coach, Maud Khumalo believes mental toughness will be key in overcoming their hoodoo side, Nigeria.
The South Africans welcome the Falconets in a crucial first leg of the final round of World Cup qualifiers on Saturday, 13 January 2018 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Both sides come into the match with a highly impressive record, setting up what is set to be two mouth-watering encounters between the two teams.
The West Africans have always had the upper hand against South Africa, something Khumalo believes can only change if her side is in a strong mental state and brush aside what the history records say.
“We have put a lot of effort in working on the players’ psyche for this match. We have a very talented group of players who can put up a good fight against any team. We have a lot of respect for Nigeria; they have done well on the continent but we have grown over the last few years and should we be in the right frame of mind, I don’t see why we can’t get the desired result” said a confident Khumalo.
Basetsana had an away friendly late last year in Cape Coast against Ghana, also their final round of the continental qualifiers and came back with a disappointing 4-0 defeat. However, the result is not something to be worried about according to Khumalo who says it was just to rotate players and try out new combinations ahead of this match.
“No team goes into any match with the intention of losing but we weren’t really looking for a result against Ghana but just needed to make sure that the players keep fit and try out new combinations. Saturday will be a totally different ball game”.
South Africa beat Namibia 9-0 on aggregate before thrashing Burundi 5-2 on aggregate to reach the final round, whilst the West Africans on the other hand cruised past Tanzania 9-0 on aggregate before hammering Morocco 6-2 at the penultimate round.
While South Africa is yet to make a World Cup appearance, Nigeria has featured in all editions of the biennial championships since its inception in 2002, with their best performance recorded in 2010 and 2014, losing in the final on both occasions to Germany.
Elsewhere in Yaounde, Cameroon will host Ghana in the other qualifier on Sunday. The second leg matches will take place in a fortnight.
Two teams will emerge from the African qualifiers to represent the continent at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup scheduled for 5-24 August 2018 in France.
13.01.2018 Polokwane South Africa vs Nigeria
14.01.2018 Yaounde Cameroon vs Ghana