Twiga Stars out to stun Namibia in 2022 Women’s AFCON qualifiers

23Oct 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Twiga Stars out to stun Namibia in 2022 Women’s AFCON qualifiers

TANZANIA senior national women football team 'Twiga Stars' has a tough mountain to climb in its effort to qualify for the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers second round, considering the side will come up against Namibia in the first round's rematch in South Africa this afternoon.

Twiga Stars' footballers participate in training in Soweto, South Africa two days back to shape up for 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers' first round's rematch against Namibia, slated for Saturday. PHOTO: TFF

Namibia women team, against all odds, commanded a 2-1 win over Twiga Stars when the teams met in the first round's first le clash which took place in Dar es Salaam mid this week.

Twiga Stars therefore will need to post either two or more goals against Namibia, whilst seeing to it they do not concede, to make certain their qualification for the next round.

Namibia will equally hope to seal the deal when they host Tanzania's Twiga Stars in the return leg of their 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Saturday (kick-off 15h00).

Namibia lead 2-1 from the first leg played in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday after a brace from their star player, Zenatha Coleman, and now know that even a 1-0 defeat will see them advance on the away goals rule.

Tanzanian ladies are certainly no pushovers given they showed their quality in winning the recent COSAFA Women’s Championship that was staged in Nelson Mandela Bay and will be desperate to turn the tables.

But Namibia women squad, alias the Brave Gladiators, certainly have an ace up their sleeve in Spain-based Zenatha Coleman, who showed once again why she is one of the leading players on the continent.

The COSAFA Women’s Championship might not have had the desired outcome in the end for coach Woody Jacobs' Namibia ladies as they took four points from their three pool games, but clearly, it was excellent preparation for the Afcon qualifiers.

Tanzania very rarely loses on their patch in official internationals and had not done so since 2015, which shows the enormity of Namibia’s feat.

But Jacobs will know too that the tie is far from over and his side will have to show the same intensity and fight this weekend.

Whoever does advance will face another massive challenge in the final round of qualifying with either Malawi or Zambia in wait.

The first leg of that tie finished 1-1 with the return set to be played in Lusaka on Tuesday – a long wait to find out their opponents.

Twiga Stars coach Bakari Shime was confident his side could advance past either, having met both in the recent COSAFA tournament.

“If we eliminate Namibia, we will face either Malawi or Zambia, with whom we played in the just-ended COSAFA Women’s Championship. We eliminated Zambia in the semifinal through penalties, and later won 1-0 against Malawi in the final,” he said.

But that is a long way off, for now, the most important thing for the Twiga Stars is to try and turn around their tie with the Namibians.

The match is being played in neutral South Africa with Namibia not having a suitable venue with which to host the fixture.

The qualifiers for the Nations Cup have added significance for all teams as the finals competition will serve as the preliminaries for the 2023 Women’s FIFA World Cup to be staged in Australia and New Zealand.

The top four teams in the African competition will book their place in the expanded 32-team global finals, while the sides that end fifth and sixth will play in inter-continental qualifiers that could see Africa have as many as six representatives

It is all part of FIFA’s commitment to growing the women’s game, but the path to the World Cup will end for one of Namibia and Tanzania on Saturday.