The journey to the 9th African Women’s Championship (AWC) Namibia 2014 begins this weekend with the first leg matches of the first round. Sixteen (16) teams will be involved in the first hurdle in the race for places for the ninth edition of the showpiece continental women’s football tournament. Only seven places are up for grabs, to join hosts Namibia for the final tournament in October that also serves as the qualifier for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
An eagerly contest is set for the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou, on Saturday where ‘Les Etalons Filles’ will engage neighbors, Black Queens of Ghana, with the latter on an image redemption mission after their failure to qualify for the 2012 AWC in Equatorial Guinea. The Queens, three-time runners-up at the continental championship, seek to rebuild their status under new coach Yusif Basigie, who has been tasked with reviving the fortunes of the team. The Ghanaians have been preparing on the quiet for the trip to north to face Adama Dembele’s charges, who are plotting a surprise for their guests.
At the Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, She-polopolo of Zambia will battle it out with the Twiga Stars of Tanzania. The Zambians, aiming to reach the final phase for the first time will find their guests a hard nut to crack following the recent ascendency of women’s football in the East African country. However, they are motivated by their junior counterpart’s historic qualification for the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, in their quest to succeed against the Tanzanians.
‘Les Elephantes’ of Cote d’Ivoire have a date with Mali at the Robert Champroux Stadium in Abidjan, with Clementine Toure’s charges hoping to make their 10-0 thrashing of local side, Juventus de Yopougon count against the Malians.
In Gaborone, Botswana will face Zimbabwe in an encounter involving two teams from Southern Africa. Coming on the wheels of a 3-1 win over Swaziland in a test game last week, Botswana coach Mmoloki Masele is upbeat about his team’s readiness for the clash with the Zimbabweans.
On the other hand, the Mighty Warriors of Zimbabwe boosted their preparations with a training tour of Egypt, managing a 2-1 win and 3-2 loss against their hosts in Cairo. For head coach, Rosemary Mugadza, the two matches against Egypt have placed them in a good stead for the opening match of the qualifying face.
“We are satisfied with the preparations and the girls are ready for the qualifiers. Botswana are a good side and I understand they have been in camp since October. We are equally prepared and we should be able to beat them and qualify for the next round,” Mugadza was quoted by the Sunday Mail newspaper.
Elsewhere in Kigali, Rwanda will engage Kenya in game that coach of the former, Grace Nyinawumuntu, is counting on a convincing win to boost their target in the qualifiers. “The Kenya game is very important for us and we have prepared adequately for it. We have to win to have a good chance of qualifying. We need to be among of the best teams and we know we can do it, we will work hard and prepare well so that we can be at our best,” the ex-national player told Rwandan New Times.
North African duo, Egypt and Tunisia will battle it out in Cairo, whilst Algeria and Morocco square off at the Omar Hamadi Stadium in Algiers on Friday.
The second leg matches will take place on the weekend of 28 February to 2 March, 2014 with the winners progressing to the second round to join African champions, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Cameroon, who drew a bye at the first round. Fixtures 14/2/2014 Algeria vs Morocco 15/2/2014 Zambia vs Tanzania 15/2/2014 Burkina Faso vs Ghana 15/2/2014 Cote d’Ivoire vs Mali 16/2/2014 Egypt vs Tunisia 16/2/2014 Rwanda vs Kenya 16/2/2014 Guinea Bissau vs Senegal
16/2/2014 Botswana vs Zimbabwe
Nigeria vs Sierra Leone*
Ethiopia vs South Sudan*
*Mozambique vs Comoros *Withdrew