As South Africa fine tunes their preparations for the FIFA Women World Cup in France during June, coach Desiree Ellis has brought in winger Ode Fulutudilu for the friendly match against Jamaica in Durban on Sunday.
The South African player with her roots deeply entrenched in the Democratic Republic of Congo and playing her professional football for Malaga in Spain had many people asking why she had not been a part of the national set-up.
But as Banyana Banyana enter the final stages of their preparations, Ode has been roped in to integrate her into the team and to see how she shapes up leading up to their participation in certainly their biggest tournament in the history of the women game.
“We are excited,” revealed Ellis about playing at the iconic World Cup venue. “We are also grateful about the opportunity to play against a team that is also going to the World Cup. They are newbies like us, but the preparatory camp has been going excellently and excitement is increasing.”
But going back to Ode, there is no doubt about natural ability, skills and the kind of pace that could burn the grass. The Spanish based winger has one weakness however, and that is sometimes she forgets that football is a team-game.
It is a fact that sometimes strikers need to be selfish, but that should not characterize your game and if she can remember that football is not about the individual but must always be about the collective above everything else, then she could be Banyana’s key player at the Mundial.
Both Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana are exceptionally talented strikers but perhaps Ode could with her physical presence could add that dimension that is so sadly missing from Desiree Ellis’s team as it was proved when they were sometimes out muscled by Nigeria.
The game against Jamaica is a kind of “Farewell” match to the South African public before they feature in other high profile international friendly matches against the United States women in California and another against an as yet to be identified opponent.
They will then tackle in their opening match of the FIFA World Cup against Spain, followed by China and then Germany to complete the group stages of the tournament.