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Ode has dreams of glory


Chances are some Spanish players would have never heard of her, something she plans to change by the end of tomorrow

STARS IN HER EYES: Ode Fulutudilu is driven to do well against Spain tomorrow. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu BackpagePix

ODE Fulutudilu is dreaming about breaking the hearts of the familiar Spanish faces she will line up against tomorrow, and in the process earn herself a place in the hearts of million of South Africans who aren’t familiar with her.

The Spain-based Banyana Banyana striker will know a thing or two about the La Roja players they will come up against in their opening match of the World Cup tomorrow at Stade Oceane in Le Havre, France.

Only three players from Spain’s 23-women squad play outside their country. The other 20 feature in Spain’s Premier Division of women’s football while Fulutudilu’s Malaga are in Primera Division B – their equivalent of the National First Division.

Chances are some Spanish players would have never heard of her, something she plans to change by the end of tomorrow.

“The greatest achievement would be to score the winning goal against Spain,” Fulutudilu said. “For the team it would be to win the first game, there is nothing else that would top that. The first game is extremely important because if we could win that game, it would give us the foundation to continue and do well.

“If we can’t get something from the first game, then it’s going to be a long road for us in terms of getting out of the group.”

But it’s not only Spain’s players who wouldn’t know much about Fulutudilu. Some of her countrymen also don’t know her that well even though she has been in the national team set-up before.

Born in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Fulutudilu’s family escaped the war-torn country when she was three years old. They relocated to Angola but fled from there too due to trouble in the area. They settled in Cape Town. She eventually made her way to the Banyana Banyana team and showed devastating pace and an eye for goal. But she lost form, which led to her losing her place in the side. She didn’t drop her head, and instead used that as motivation before earning a contract in Finland and eventually in Spain.

A year ago she was unlikely to have been considered for the World Cup squad, but she believes she did enough to earn a ticket to France.

“It wasn’t a huge surprise for me given the last two camps I was on,” she said. “It would have been a surprise if I didn’t perform well at training in the last two camps. Even though I didn’t play much, I played a total of 10 minutes in the last two camps, but I wasn’t upset that I wasn’t playing because I knew what I brought into the team at training.

“I had confidence that what I was putting in, that the coaches would give me a fair opportunity.

“I knew (even) in my first camp that my time would come.”