South Africa to showcase football future at inaugural Under-20 finals

South Africa coach Desiree Ellis will have a balancing act to play when she selects her squad for the COSAFA Women’s Championship, given that the inaugural regional Under-20 women’s competition will be played at the same time.

Ellis took a squad infused with youngsters to the recent FIFA World Cup, with as many as four players still eligible for the Under-20s.

Whether Ellis will retain them for the senior side or release them to the junior side remains to be seen, but either way they represent some of the most exciting young players in the country.

Karabo Dhlamini, 17, is a versatile star who made her senior national team debut this year and has looked to adjust easily to the top level. She was also part of the South African side that competed at the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay.

Another teenager with a massive future is Sibulele Holweni, also a versatile star who played at the senior World Cup in the right-back position against China.

She is a huge talent and it will be fascinating to see whether Ellis retains her role for the senior side, or asks her to feature for the Under-20s, where, like Dlamini, she has the potential to be a star of the competition.

There are a number of other players from the Under-17 side that competed at the World Cup who could stake a claim for the Under-20s, including striker Zikhona Nogqala.

Young goalkeeper Kaydee Windvogel is another, while the likes of Noxolo Cesane, captain Morongwa Manamela, Sarah Walker, Oratile Mokwena, Jessica Wade, Sinoxolo Cesane, Annah Queen Mokgatha, Christy Noble and Chelsea Daniels could all feature.

Whatever squad is chosen, it will be a fascinating glimpse into the future of South African women’s football.