South Africa are the most successful of the COSAFA nations in this age-group having twice before qualified for the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup in 2010 and 2018, but they are still seeking their maiden title in the regional showpiece event.
They reached the final of the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship, but were undone by the excellent Uganda, who proved too good in a 2-1 success in the decider.
There was much to admire about South Africa along the way though, they claimed an African international record 28-0 scoreline in their opener against Seychelles.
That was followed by pool stage wins over Botswana (5-1) and Madagascar (3-1) as they claimed a 100% record.
They edged Zambia 2-1 in a tough semifinal, but finally came unstuck against the Ugandans.
Last year’s tournament on home soil proved more of a disappointment as they failed to make the final, finishing third in the five-team group after defeats to Zambia (1-2) and Tanzania (1-6) in the pool stages.
It was a harsh lesson for the team and one they will hope to put right at this year’s event in the Girls’ football tournament at the Region 5 Youth Games Maseru 2020.
The team suffered further disappointment last year when they were on course to qualify for the 2021 FIFA Women’s World Cup in India, where they faced a very winnable tie against to reach the finals, but the global showpiece was cancelled due to COVID-19.
After a bye in the first round, they had edged Zambia 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the third stage. Zambia won the first leg 2-0 at home, but South Africa roared back to claim the second 3-0.
Their first shot at the global finals came in 2008 when they lost 3-0 on aggregate to Cameroon in the second round after having a walkover win over Botswana in the first.
They humbled Botswana 22-1 over two legs in the 2010 qualifiers, but then lost 7-1 on aggregate to Nigeria to miss out on an automatic place at the finals.
They went into a play-off with Tunisia though and after a 1-0 away win and 1-1 draw, booked a place in Trinidad & Tobago.
There they found the going tough, with defeats to South Korea (1-3), Germany (1-10) and Mexico (0-4), but a number of that squad, including Robyn Moodaly, Jermaine Seoposenwe and Kaylin Swart have gone on to have successful careers with Banyana Banyana.
South Africa beat Namibia 6-1 on aggregate in the qualifiers for 2012, but a 5-1 aggregate loss to Ghana in the next stage meant there would be no finals for them.
A year later they were surprisingly defeated by Zambia in the second round after a 3-3 away draw was followed by a 3-1 home loss.
In 2015 they received a walkover win over Zambia, but in the final stage of qualifying lost 7-0 on aggregate to Nigeria.
They were back at the global finals in 2018 though as a 11-6 aggregate win over Botswana was followed by a 6-1 aggregate success over Morocco.
They meant they played at the FIFA event in Uruguay, where they again showed improved performance, but could not get out of their pool.
A 0-0 draw with Mexico was followed by a 6-0 loss to Japan and a 4-1 defeat to Brazil.
SOUTH AFRICA’S COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD
2019 – Runners-up
2020 – Third
P W D L GF GA
9 6 0 3 57 13
Biggest victory: 28-0 vs Seychelles (Group Stage, 21/09/2019)
Biggest defeat: 1-6 vs Tanzania (Group Stage, 08/11/2020)
11 goals – Oyisa Marhasi
10 – Jessica Wade
7 – Nabeelah Galant, Tiffany Kortjie
3 – Tiyana Carollissen, Nelly Gamede, Jade Leask, Sonika Mzingeli
2 – Christy Noble, Kanalelo Taiwe
1 – Thimna Mpehle, Yolanda Ndluli, Shakira O’Malley, Hlela Philisani, Tyler Scott