World Cup 2021: SA drawn in 'group of death'
SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks Women will face England, France and debutantes Fiji in Pool C of the 2021 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
The tournament will be played out in Auckland and Whangarei from September 8 to October 16 next year.
The tournament marks the first women’s World Cup in the southern hemisphere and features three pools of four teams.
Defending champions and tournament hosts, New Zealand, have been drawn in Pool A and will battle it out against Australia, Wales and the winner of the qualifier between Kenya and Columbia next year.
The USA will take on Canada, and the winners of the Asia 1 and Europe 1 qualifiers – which is also set to be played in 2021 – in Pool B.
The 2021 World Cup will mark the third time the Springbok Women face France in the pool stages of the showpiece after crossing paths with them in the 2014 and 2006 tournaments, but it will be the first time they meet England and Fiji.
Reacting to the pool draw, South Africa Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer said that his charges had to be prepared to be tested in New Zealand, but they were looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a tough pool but we always knew it would be,” said Raubenheimer.
“You have to play against two of the top six teams and in our case, we have England and France.
“England were runners up in the last World Cup and France were bronze medalists, but that is the reality of playing on this stage, and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves.”
With the tournament kicking off in less than 10 months, Raubenheimer said good preparation and analysis of their opposition would be vital to ensure that the team is as ready as can be when they depart for the land of the long white cloud.
“We will zoom into the opposition more going forward, which is a positive because before the draw we had to look at all of the teams,” he said.
“We will also look specifically at what we need to do and what we can be better at, but that said the biggest focus is on ourselves.
“We need to give a good account of ourselves, and we know now who we need to prepare for.
“Watching the draw gave us a sense of nervous excitement, but we can really focus on what we need to do now.”