South Africa take aim at maiden COSAFA Women’s Under-17 title

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.

The 2020 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.

They did not compete in the Girls’ football tournament at the Region 5 Youth Games Maseru 2020, so this is a return to the tournament, which they hope will be a triumphant one.

They meet hosts and debutants Malawi in their opener on December 1, before a clash against Mauritius two days later. The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals.

The team suffered further disappointment in 2020 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 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 several 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.

Tournament finishes:
2019 – Runners-up
2020 – Third
2021 – Did not enter

Match record:
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