It wasn’t pretty, but Bantwana coach Simphiwe Dludlu was more thanhappy to see her charges earn a point in their opening Group B fixture at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay when they played to a goalless draw with Mexico at the Estadio Domingo Burgueño Miguel on Tuesday.
They were up against a Mexican team which reached the quarterfinals of the global tournament in the last two editions of the competition in Jordan 2016 as well as in Costa Rica in 2014.
Bantwana, however, stood their ground and having been on the back foot for the most part of the game, they were able to keep the South Americans from getting a goal with goalkeeper Kay-Dee Windvogel making some incredible saves to ensure the team started the competition on a positive note.
“We became better as the game progressed. We started to gain confidence and played together and defended as a team.
“We had two debutants, first caps in the national colours, so it was great for us to see them throughout the game,” said the Bantwana coach.
“But I think there are quite some elements we need to improve on going into the next game. I am happy with the performance and the heart shown on the field by the players.
“It would have been better to have had a visible picture in the last 20 minutes of the game (there was heavy mist which affected visibility and there were no lights), but nonetheless, both teams did well.”
Next in line for the South Africans is a clash against 2014 champions and 2016 runners-up Japan in their second group phase game.
The Japanese managed to hold Brazil to a goalless draw in the earlier match which leaves all the teams with a point each in the group going into the second round of matches.
Bantwana and the Little Nadeshiko will both be eager to register their first three points at the tournament when they meet at the same venue tomorrow evening.