Mexico and South Africa displayed a lot of respect towards one another on the eve of their opening FIFA U-17 Women World Cup opening match against each other in Uruguay on Tuesday evening if comments by both coaches are anything to go by.
Mexican coach Monica Vergara was profuse with her praises of the South African side that qualified by beating Morocco 6-1 on aggregate, but Simphiwe “Shorty” Dludlu shot right back, returning the compliment even though one could sense that she is not buying the praises.
“We are quite aware that South Africa is a good country,” said Vergara. “They are very good team; very organized but we are prepared and waiting for the tournament to get underway on Tuesday evening.”
However, while bemoaning the lack of video footage that could enable her to properly analyze her opponents, Dludlu confessed that the little that they know about the Mexican was enough to indicate to them that they are quite a formidable team.
“The women game is disadvantaged in that you do not get to see a lot of footage. But with the little that we have seen and the little that we know about them, they obviously have the experience of a tournament set-up.
“They have qualified for this level previously and quite frankly, you cannot say you have prepared to a particular individual, but you must look at the team as a whole. We know they are organized with players that have height while comfortable with the ball.
“It will be a right royal battle out there but we have prepared well for this tournament and we expect quite a hard fight out there and cannot wait to get to the field,” added Dludlu.
It had been a tough road for the South Africans who have to juggle their school programme with their football assignments and visited Spain, where they played two preparatory matches against club sides in the European country.
They defeated a UD Levante U-17 side 4-2 and played a 1-1 draw against Valencia’s U-20 side, results that satisfied Dludlu, but she also knows that friendlies are a mere barometer, the real battle gets underway tonight.
Brazil take on Japan in an earlier match in the same group described as a “Group of Death.”