Ninety minutes! That’s what separates the Bantwana national U17 women’s team from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup scheduled for Uruguay later this year.
That’s after a dominant display in defeating Morocco 5-1 at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Sunday.
A brace from midfielder Karabo Dlamini, and one goal each from Thambolinye Mzoneli, Miche Minnies and Sphumelele Shamase, were enough to see South Africa over the line with ease, to set up a mouthwatering clash against the North Africans when the two nations meet the second leg in two weeks time.
The return match will be played on Saturday, 17 February at Stade Boubker Aamar in Sale, Morocco with kick-off 4.30pm SA time. The overall winner will qualify for the tournament in Uruguay.
South Africa started brightly and had several attempts at goal before Mzoneli opened the scoring in the ninth minute.
The celebrations had hardly died down when Dlamini increased the lead just three minutes later after good move by the home side.
In the 25th minute Dlamini was back on the scoresheet to put the game beyond Morocco, who at this stage were struggling against the dominant hosts – this was the North African’s first match in the qualifiers and it showed.
They had a bye in the preliminary round, and a walkover in the previous stage after Equatorial Guinea withdrew from the qualifiers.
They had their chances in the first half but could not trouble Kaydee Windvogel in the Bantwana goal.
Just five minutes from the break, Minnies put the final nail in the coffin when she scored South Africa’s fourth.
The visitors made a double substitution at the start of the second stanza, and started to find their feet. Their cause was made that much easier when Dlamini was red carded for dangerous play in the 55th minute – leaving Bantwana with only 10 players.
The red card means that Dlamini, who was the livewire in the South African team, will miss the away leg.
Despite the numerical inferiority, Bantwana managed to their fifth goal in the 64th minute though winger Sphumelele Shamase.
Morocco, who threw everything at South Africa, were rewarded for their efforts in the 72nd minute when they got the away goal they were looking for. It was a well-taken long-range goal by Noura Mouadni, that gave Windvogel no chance.
Bantwana head coach Simphiwe Dludlu has just a week to find the perfect replacement for Dlamini. She will also have to hope that Shamase, who also had a blinder of a game but was taken off due to a shoulder injury, is fit for the second leg.
South Africa last qualified for the U17 World Cup tournament in 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago.
This is how SA lined up:
Kaydee Windvogel (goalkeeper), Yoland Nduli, Lonathemba Mhlongo, Yenzokuhle Ngubane, Kaylin Jordan (c), Karabo Dlamini, Thambolinye Mzoneli, Jessica Wade (Sibulele Holweni), Oratile Mokwena, Sphumelele Shamase (Thubelihle Shamase), Miche Minnies
Subs: Leigh Brophy (GK), Sibulele Holweni, Cynthia Makete, Zethembiso Vilakazi, Thubelihle Shamase, Khunjulwa Mali, Nicole Michael
Coach: Simphiwe Dludlu