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The Week in Women's Football: African Champions League; COSAFA; DR Congo controversy

This week, we focus on women's football in Africa, starting with a preview of the first ever African Football Confederation (CAF) club championship finals next month for the 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions League. This first event is comprised of two stages, a zonal stage which was played from July to September and the finals set for November 5-19 in Egypt.

We also review the COSAFA (regional Southern African) 2021 Women's Championship for national teams which finished last month as well as the first round first legs of the African Women's Cup Qualifiers, which doubles as the 2023 Women's World Cup Qualifiers. The host nation Morocco did not have a qualifier but went to Spain for a high-profile friendly international, which we also review. We touch briefly on a Zambian international moving to a club in Turkey after she missed the Olympic Games Finals with an unfortunate injury.

Finally, we look at the CAF U-20 Women's World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for December, ahead of the 2022 Finals in Costa Rica, for which two teams from CAF will qualify. This qualifying tournament has received very poor media attention of late after the news that DRC Congo's team was training in the road at home and sleeping outside of their hotel on the road due to their federation's incompetence.



2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions League

Cairo, Egypt will be the setting for the first ever continental-wide African Women's Champions League, set for November 5-19. The inaugural finals have 8 teams which are broken into two groups, with the top two finishers of each group advancing to the semifinals.

Group A includes:

Wadi Degla—Egypt—the host side was the domestic league champions in 2021

AS Mande—Mali—advanced from the West African Football Union Zone A qualification tournament, edging AS Dakar Sacre-Coure of Senegal by one point along with Determine Girls FC of Libera and Seven Stars of Cape Verde.

Hasaacas Lades—Ghana—advanced from the West African Football Union Zone B qualification tournament as champions. The WAFU Zone B had six teams including US Forces Armees of Burkina Faso, Academie Amis due Monde FC of Togo, Onze Soeurs de Gagnoa of the host nation Ivory Coast, AS Police of Niger, Rivers Angels of Nigeria and Hasaacas FC. Rivers Angels defeated the Ghanaian side 3-0 in the group stage but met again in the Final, with Hasaacas winning the regional title match 3-1, with both teams advancing to Egypt. Zone B had two qualifiers because they are the region with the current African Women's Cup of Nations Champions (Nigeria in 2018).

Malabo Kings—Equatorial Guinea—Central African Football Federations' Union (UNIFFCA) Tournament qualifiers, advancing over three other teams in two-leg knockout games: Louves Minproff of Cameroon, FCF Amani of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Missile FC of Gabon.


Group B

AS FAR—Morocco—Union of North African Football (UNAF) qualification tournament winners, advancing over Afak Relizane of Algeria and AS Banque de l'Habitat of Tunisia, all of whom were domestic champions in 2020-21.

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies—South Africa—Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) qualification tournament champions. They outlasted six other teams as host, including Double Action Ladies from Botswana, Manzini Wanderers LFC of Eswatini, Lesotho Defense Force of Lesotho, Black Rhinos Queens of Zimbabwe, Green Buffaloes LFC of Zambia and Tura Magic Ladies of Namibia. Mamelodi defeated the Black Rhinos 3-0 in the regional final.

Rivers Angels—Nigeria—advanced from the West African Football Union Zone B qualification tournament as tournament runners-up (see above).

Vihiga Queens—Kenya—The Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) qualification tournament winners. Vihagi won out of seven other sides: PVP Buyenzi of Burundi, FAD Club of Djibouti, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE FC), Yei Joint Stars FC of South Sudan, Simba Queens of Tanzania, Lady Doves of Uganda and New Generation FC of Zanzibar. Vihiga Queens, which hosted the tournament in Kasarani and Nairobi, lost to CBE FC of Ethiopia 4-2 in the Group Stage but won the rematch in the finals 2-1 over Commercial Bank to take the lone spot for the region in the AWCL Finals.

The leading scorers in the qualification tournaments came from Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, with Loza Abera finishing with 13 goals and her teammate Median Awol scoring 8 goals. Jentrix Shikangwa of finalists Vihiga Queens of Kenya was third on 7 goals, tied with Maryann Ezenagu of Rivers Angels of Nigeria, who also qualified.


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River Angels FC midfielder Maryann Ezenagu scored seven goals in the Women's Champions League regional qualifying tournament for the West African Football Union (Zone B) and is expected to continue to be a strong force in the 2021 AWCL Finals in Egypt. Photo courtesy African Football Confederation.


Ezenagu is definitely one to watch in the Finals in Egypt and River Angels will need her goalscoring to make the knockout stage. She talked about losing the final to regional rival Ghana 2-1, "We defeated them (Hasaacas Ladies) in the group stage, but we thought we were used to them and know their pattern but they scored [on] us very early and we struggled to equalize during the first half. I got injured five minutes into the game, and that destabilized me because I couldn't play. I called to be replaced, but they asked me to just manage. Obviously, I was not playing. I felt it was game-play by our opponents to take me out of the match. I think that affected the team and this weighed everyone on the team down. We felt very bad as a team to have lost the trophy to Hasaacas Ladies. Our consolation was getting a ticket to the finals in Egypt."

The two sides are drawn into different groups but if they meet again in the Finals knockout stage, it will be a very interesting game, with each team taking one win so far in the tournament.


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Rivers Angels FC of Nigeria team picture. Photo courtesy African Football Confederation.


Kanizat Ibrahim of the Comoros Islands and a CAF Vice President and the President of the new Champion's League tournament's organizing committee, talked about the importance of this event, "It is a real pleasure to have to oversee such an important event. For this first edition in women's football, I can only be proud. We are going to write together a new page in the history of women's football and I take the opportunity to congratulate all the teams that have participated in this first edition and hope that others will come to participate in the following editions."


Kanizat Ibrahim1

CAF Vice President Kanizat Ibrahim. Photo Courtesy African Football Confederation.

She sees the AWCL as a showcase for women's football "It is an event that marks the history of women's football, it represents a window of hope for women around the world and anything is possible when the will is there. Having a Women's Champions League will make younger people want to take up the challenges and dream of one day being able to participate. Women can also be in the foreground with a technical performance comparable to that of men."

We applaud the African Football Confederation for launching this tournament—a companion to the long running continental club tournament on the men's side—and TribalFootball.com will be following the tournament for readers in November.



Tanzania Edge Malawi to win COSAFA Women's Championship 2021 title

The Twiga Stars of Tanzania defeated Malawi 1-0 in the COSAFA Final played on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on October 9, 2021. This was the ninth edition of the regional event for national teams. Enekia Lunyamila netted the lone goal in the 64th minute off a rebound after Malawi's goalkeeper Rusth Mhango had punched the ball back into play. Tanzania made their debut in the competition in 2019 and is a guest nation for the tournament for the third time; the other guest sides Uganda and South Sudan.

Bakari Nyundo Shime, the Tanzanian women's national team head coach told Sports News Africa that it was not by fluke that they won the title, "We worked so hard to achieve success at the tournament. The hard work showed on the pitch because we did not suffer defeat and only conceded one goal in the five matches played….Playing at this tournament has helped us a lot since we first entered in 2019." Malawi coach Mcnelbert Kadzuwa said his team had missed some good chances, "This has been our best performance in this tournament and we take positive lessons from here."

Tanzania opened their campaign with a 3-0 win against Zimbabwe, before stopping 2020 runners-up Botswana 2-0. They went on to defeat South Sudan 3-0 in the last group match before defeating Zambia at the semifinal stage 3-2 on a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes. Tanzania now holds titles in all the women's categories in COSAFA, Under-17, Under-20 and senior football.

In the third place match played before the final, Zambia beat South Africa 4-3 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1. South Africa's Sibulele Holweni (20), who plays at home for Sophakama/HPS, captured the tournament's Golden Boot title with 5 goals. South Africa were the defending champion from the November 2020 tournament by beating Botswana 2-1 goals. Malawi defeated South Africa in the semifinals 3–2.

Nine of the fourteen COSAFA members took take part in the competition. South Sudan and Tanzania from the CECAFA region entered as guests. Comoros withdrew and were replaced by guests Uganda from the CECAFA region. The finals participants in 2021 were:


In Group A, South Africa (7 points) and Malawi (6 points) both advanced to the semifinals, with Angola (2 points) and Mozambique (1 point) lagging behind. Malawi edged into the semis on a goal difference of 1 over Zimbabwe from Group B

In Group B, the ultimate winners Tanzania won all three matches (9 points) to move onto the knockout stage, while Zimbabwe (6 points), Botswana (3 points) and South Sudan (0 points) went home after the three group matches

In Group C, Zambia also advanced on 3 wins (9 points) with Uganda and Namibia on 4 points and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) on 0 points.

Malawi's Scorchers should be proud of their achievement and met with the Malawi President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, who told them, "You are history makers. Making it to the final for the first time is not a mean achievement and as a country, we are proud of you girls. As a leader, I strongly believe that if we all take your COSAFA achievement as a lesson, it won't be hard to develop this country because something special will be happening wherever there is a Malawian, since our performance will always be extraordinary." It was the team's first ever appearance in the Finals of the regional tournament.


Malawi's Women's National Team, after finishing second at the 2021 COSAFA Regional championships, meet with the nation's President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera. Photo courtesy Football Association of Malawi


Malawi caretaker co-coach Andrew Chikhosi's final 20-member squad for the COSAFA competition—after whittling down from a squad of 30 players brought into a camp early in September—was as follows, with two playing in Zambia's Women's League:

Goalkeepers: Mercy Skilo (Ntopwa), Ruth Mhango (Moyale Sisters), Samil Amidu (DD Sunshine),

Defenders: Emily Jossam (Blantyre Zero), Ruth Nyirongo (DD Sunshine), Tionge Phiri (DD Sunshine), Mphatso Gondwe (DD Sunshine), Ireen Khumalo (Ascent Academy), Chimwemwe Madise (Lusaka Dynamos of Zambia), Patricia Nyirenda (Lusaka Dynamos of Zambia)

Midfielders: Chikondi Gondwe (CY Sisters), Madina Nguluwe (DD Sunshine), Zainabu Kapanda (Blantyre Zero), Wezzie Mvula (DD Sunshine), Carolyn Mathyola (DD Sunshine), Lyna James (Blantyre Zero)

Strikers: Asimenye Simwaka (Topic), Fazira Chiyembekeza (Skippers), Sabina Thom (DD Sunshine), Vanessa Chikupira (Blantyre Zero)


Madyina

Nguluwe of Malawi goes past Amina Bilali of Tanzania during the 2021 COSAFA Womens Championship Final game between Tanzania and Malawi at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on 9 October. Photo Courtesy 2021©RyanWilkisky/BackpagePix/Football Association of Malawi.


Uganda had two players with clubs abroad in their side: forward Sandra Nabweteme of FH of Iceland and Otandeka Laki of New Jersey Copa of UWS. Namibia used 26-year-old Lovisa Mulunga of Albany State University, where she has been working on an MBA. Botswana had three of their side based in Zambia: defender Lone Gaofetoge (Lusaka Dynamos), Warona Molete (Lusaka Dynamos) and defender Mokgabo Thanda (Yasa). South Africa brought back their long time captain Janine van Wyk from Glasgow City of Scotland.

Angola, Eswantini, Mozambique, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all used domestic-tied players.



Women's AFCON First Stage First Leg Matches

The qualifiers for the TotalEnergies Women's Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2021 began on October 18-22 with the first leg of the first round being held, with the returns due to be held from October 23-26.

In one of the top ties of the round, reigning Women's Africa Cup of Nations Champions Nigeria took a 2-0 first leg win at home against neighbors and fellow African power Ghana with two goals from Uchenna Kanu (24), who plays with Linkopings of Sweden and played collegiately in the U.S .at Southeastern University of Lakeland, Florida. Nigeria has won nine of the previous 11 regional titles (Equatorial Guinea breaking their string by winning in 2008 and 2012) and Ghana will miss the finals for only the second time if they don't overcome a very good Nigerian side with a win in the second leg.

Nigeria's American coach Randy Waldrum, who took over the side late last year, said after the game, "We are extremely excited about the win. It's important to get a win at home and keeping a clean sheet too was very important for us to go into the second leg. In the first half, we came out with a good attacking mentality. In the second half, we played a little more off the counter. But the players fought really hard; I thought Chiamaka [Nnadozie of Paris FC in France] came up with a big-time save to keep a clean sheet which was very important for us. We all understand this is just half of the job." On the upcoming second leg he said, "The staff will get back and we would have some conversations and watch the video of how we want to approach the second leg. We all know that when you do home and away, it's important to keep a clean sheet at home. But it's also important to score a goal in the second leg because the away goal really counts for you. So, we will have to find a balance of making sure that we are attacking but also protecting the two-goal lead that we have." TribalFootball.com talked to Waldrum earlier this year after a successful first friendly tournament with his team in Europe (see: The Week in Women's Football: Interview with Nigeria coach Waldrum; English teams professionalise; - Tribal Football), and in a brief message after the Ghana first leg win, he told this reporter that his team—with the matchup against Ghana—had faced a "Very difficult draw." In the next round, if they dispatch Ghana in the second leg, they would face the winner of the Cote d' Ivoire versus Niger winner (see below).


Nigeria's squad against Ghana drew heavily on players abroad in American head coach Randy Waldrum's first competitive tournament engagement of his tenure, with only seven of his 22 based at home and 15 with clubs in America or Europe:

Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi (Maccabi Kishronot Hadera, Israel); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France); Yewande Balogun (California Storm, USA)

Defenders: Onome Ebi (Minsk FC, Belarus); Glory Ogbonna (Umea FC, Sweden); Osinachi Ohale (Deportivo Alaves, Spain); Ayomide Ojo (Edo Queens); Rafiat Imuran (Rivers Angels); Opeyemi Sunday (Edo Queens); Oluwatosin Demehin (Rivers Angels); Akudo Ogbonna (Edo Queens)

Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu (Madrid CFF, Spain); Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain); Toni Oyedupe Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Regina Otu (Minsk FC, Belarus); Goodness Onyebuchi (Edo Queens); Joy Bokiri (AIK FC, Sweden)

Forwards: Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain); Francisca Ordega (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Gift Monday (FC Robo Queens); Uchenna Kanu (Linkopings FC, Sweden); Desire Oparanozie (Dijon FC, France)

Ghana Black Queens Coach Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo named 22 players to face Nigeria in the first leg of the 2022 Africa Women's Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers. The list included four foreign-based players, with Israel-based defender Blessing Shine Agbomadzi making a return to the squad; she was called in with Swedish-based Portia Boakye and Spain-based duo Princella Adubea and Grace Asantewaa. The 22 players included:

Goalkeepers

Fafali Dumehasi - Police Ladies

Victoria Antwi-Adjei - Kumasi Sports Academy

Mary Neequaye- Immigrations Ladies

Defenders

Gladys Amfobea - Ladystrikers

Ellen Coleman - Ladystrikers

Nina Norshie - Berry Ladies

Janet Egyir - Hasaacas Ladies

Blessing Agomadzi - Hapoel Be'er sheva (Israel)

Justice Tweneboa - Ampem Darkoa Ladies

Philicity Asuako- Police Ladies

Midfielders

Naomi Anima - Kumasi Sports Academy

Monica Addai - Berry Ladies

Grace Animah - Police Ladies

Grace Acheampong - Ampem Darkoa Ladies

Grace Adams - Berry Ladies

Grace Asantewaa - Real Betis Feminas (Spain)

Portia Boakye - Djugarden IF (Sweden)

Attackers

Sophia Agyarkwa - Soccer Intellectuals

Vivian Adjei Konadu - Thunder Queens

Elizabeth Owusu - Ampem Darkoa Ladies

Sonia Opoku - Ampem Darkoa Ladies

Princella Adubea - Racing de Santander Feminas (Spain)

South Africa bounced back from COSAFA disappointment (see above) to defeat Mozambique 7-0 in the WAFCON first leg in Maputo as Linda Motlhalo (Djugardens of Sweden after a season at Beijing BG Phoenix in China and one with the Houston Dash in the NWSL) and midfielder Gabriela Salgado (JVW FC) each scored a brace.

In a surprise among COSAFA rivals, Malawi held 2020 Olympic Games Finals participant Malawi to a 1-1 draw in Lilongwe. Malawi had finished second in the latest COSAFA regional tournament while Zambia finished in third place (see above). Both sides were without their Chinese-based scorers for the WAFCON matches as Malawi was without Wuhan's sisters Tabitha and Temwa Chawinga, while Zambia did not have Shanghai's Barbara Banda—an absolute scoring revelation to a global audience during this summer's Olympic Games Finals—due to club duties. Zambia captain Grace Chanda (ZESCO United) broke the deadlock for the Copper Queens, who seek a third Women's AFCON Finals appearance. After the break, the Scorchers, who are eyeing their first ever participation in the Women's Africa Cup of Nations, fought back in the second half until Sabinah Thom (DD Sunshine) struck in the 66th minute to give the home side the lifeline of a deadlock heading into the return in Zambia.

Cameroon needed a 91st minute strike from Ajara Njoya (currently with Inter Milan in Italy following stints in Spain, Norway, Sweden, Russia and America—NWSL's Western New York Flash) from a pass by Genevieve Ngo Mbeleck (Maccabi Kiryat Gat of Israel) to edge past Central African Republic 1-0 at Japoma Stadium in Douala on August 20. The match was technically a road game for Cameroon as CAR plays their home matches in Cameroon for stadium and logistics reasons.

Neddy Atieno scored five goals in Kenya's 8-0 win over South Sudan. Kenya's roster was entirely home-based:

Goalkeepers

Annette Kundu (Unattached), Pauline Katharu (Kibera Girls Soccer), Lilian Awour (Vihiga Queens) Maureen Shimuli (Ulinzi Starlets)

Defenders

Vivian Nasaka (Vihiga Queens), Juliet Adipo (Kayole Starlet), Dorcas Shikobe (Lakatama FC), Lucy Akoth (Mathare United Women FC), Dorcas Neema (Nakuru Queens), Phoebe Awiti (Vihiga Queens), Enez Mango (Vihiga Queens), Nelly Sawe (Thika Queens), Ruth Ingotsi (Unattached)

Midfielders

Sheril Angach (Gaspo Women), Corazone Aquino (Gaspo Women), Mercy Oginga (Vihiga Queens), Lydia Akoth (Thika Queens), Lilian Mmboga (Kibera Girls Soccer), Lorna Nyarinda (Kibera Girls Soccer), Martha Amunyolet (Transzoia Queens), Maureen Ater (Vihiga Queens), Merceline Wayodi (Kisumu All Starlets)

Attackers

Terry Engesha (Vihiga Queens), Rachael Mwema (Thika Queens), Janet Bundi (Vihiga Queens), Jentrix Shikangwa (Vihiga Queens), Lucy Mukhwana (Ulinzi Starlets), Neddy Akoth (Ulinzi Starlets), Mwanahalima Adam (Thika Queens), Violet Wanyonyi (Vihiga Queens), Elizabeth Wambui (Gaspo Women FC)

Cote d'Ivoire Elephants had a similar easy first leg victory away in Niamey against Niger, winning 9-0. Cote d'Ivoire is determined to make the finals this year after missing the two previous finals in 2016 and 2018—a surprise after they reached the Women's World Cup Finals in Canada in 2015 by finishing third in the 2014 tournament. Ida Rebecca Guehai (Logrono of Spain) had a hat-trick and Ange N'Guessan (Tenerife of Spain since 2017 after a move from Barcelona of Spain) added a brace to lead the way for head coach Clementine Toure's side.

In another Western Africa derby, Liberia fell at home to Senegal 2-1, scoring their lone goal in the 95th minute from substitute Lucy Kikeh. Afterwards Robert Lartey, the Lone Stars head coach, apologized to the fans for the home defeat, "We are sorry for the defeat [as] our plan was to win; every coach wants to win but when you lost you must accept the defeat because in football there are three results you must accept: win, lose or draw and today we lost to our Senegalese counter[part]; we want to say to the Liberian people all is not lost….The only thing I want to say here is let us not feel discouraged, we need to keep this team together."

DR Congo's Leopards (with a federation beset by organizational problems—see story below on their U-20 Women's side, who was trying to qualify for the next age group FIFA WWC—did not show up for their first leg tie away against Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on October 20. DRC was supposed to arrive 48 hours before the match but did appear at all prior to the scheduled match. Equatorial Guinea's Women's Nzalang claimed the three points from the forfeit but the Confederation of African Football is reviewing the situation. The second leg is set for Sunday October 24 in DRC and the EG side has said that they will travel for it. Last year, the two sides met in the final of the inaugural Union of Central African Football Federations (UNIFFAC) with Equatorial Guinea winning 4-2 in Ebibeyin in northeastern Equatorial Guinea.



WAFCON First Round First Leg Results

Uganda 2-0 Ethiopia

Eritrea 0-5 Burundi

Tanzania 1-2 Namibia

Zimbabwe 3-1 Eswatini

Mozambique 0-7 South Africa

RCA 0-1 Cameroon

Malawi 1-1 Zambia

Egypt 2-6 Tunisia

Congo 2-1 Gabon

Kenya 8-0 South Sudan

Liberia 1-2 Senegal

Nigeria 2-0 Ghana

Guinea Bissau 1-0 Mauritania

Niger 0-9 Cote d'Ivoire

Angola 1-5 Botswana

Sierra Leone 0-2 Gambia

Burkina Faso 2-1 Benin

Mali 2-2 Guinea

Algeria 14-0 Sudan

Sao Tome 0-5 Togo

Rwanda withdrew after the CAF draw so Djibouti advanced to the next round on a walkover.


Zambia's Misozi Zulu moves to Turkey

Zambian international striker Misozi Zulu has joined Turkish Women's Super League side Hakkârigücü Spor Kulübü—in the city of Hakkari in the eastern portion of the country—from Zambian Women's Super League side Indeni Roses on a one-season-long loan deal with an option to extend the contract. Zulu was unable to participate at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this past summer due to an injury. Zulu, who is nicknamed CR7 after the Manchester United and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, is moving abroad for the second time. She was due to join Israeli based side Maccabi Holon last year but the move never materialized. Her first European experience was in 2019 with Kazakhstan Champions BIIK-Kazgurt along with her national teammate Rachael Kundananji.


Morocco vs Spain friendly

Morocco has an automatic berth to the Women's AFCON Finals as hosts so they do not have to play in the qualifiers to play so they went to Spain for an important friendly. On October 21, Morocco fell to their hosts 3-0 in Caceres. Athenea del Castillo (20) scored in the 28th minute for Spain and again in the 68th minute; she joined Real Madrid after two seasons with Deportivo de La Coruna. She won a UEFA U-19 title with Spain and has two goals in her six full internationals since 2020. Amaiur Sarriegi Isasa, also 20-years-old and who plays for Real Sociedad and had 13 goals last season in 26 games and five tallies this season from seven games, scored the other goal in the 60th minute.

national women's football team arrives in spain

Morocco Women's National Team arrives in Spain for a high profile friendly in October 2021. Photo courtesy of Morocco Football Federation.


CAF FIFA U-20 Next Qualification Round is Set and Trouble in DR Congo

The first leg of the third round will take place between December 2-4, while the return leg will be held from December 16-18 across the continent. The second round was concluded in early October and saw 16 teams advance to the third round.

FIFA-U-20-Womens-World-Cup-2022-logo

First Leg (2, 3 & 4 December 2021)

Tanzania vs Burundi

Botswana vs Ethiopia

Uganda vs South Africa

Zambia vs Ghana

Morocco vs Gambia

Senegal vs Guinea

Cameroon vs Gabon

Congo vs Nigeria

Second Leg (16, 17 & 18 December 2021)

Unfortunately, the focus on this tournament has been from a recently released video of DR Congo's U-20 women's national team, with fell to Cameroon 9-0 on aggregate in the previous round, training in the street because their federation didn't book a field for them. FIFA says it's "deeply concerned" at images that have recently emerged on social media of the Congolese Under-20 women's national team, "Player welfare is a top priority for FIFA and we have taken immediate steps with authorities in the country, including FECOFA [the Congolese Federation of Football Association], to guarantee the safety and welfare of all players involved," said FIFA in a statement sent to CNN.

FIFPRO says the video shows the team training on a dirt road.

DR Congo's U-20 women's national team practicing in the street before a FIFA U-20 WWC CAF Regional Qualifier (Photo Courtesy FIFPRO)

Global soccer players' union FIFPRO posted video footage appearing to show the team training in the street before an Under-20 World Cup qualifier (see link: Video of the training was shared on Twitter by the global soccer players' union FIFPRO.) FIFPRO says the video shows the team executing a passing drill on a dirt road with cars and motorbikes passing by. At one point, the drill is interrupted as a yellow van drives down the road between the players. According to the report, FECOFA did not book adequate pitch time ahead of the team's 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cameroon on September 25, which the team lost 4-0 at home.

Adding further insult to injury, FIFPRO said that the team was also forced to sleep outside in their tracksuits after being kicked out of their hotel in Cameroon before the return leg on October 12 because their federation hadn't paid for the rooms. "This is unacceptable," FIFPRO wrote at the end of the video, which it said in a statement was taken by a member of the public. DR Congo lost the return leg 5-0 and Cameroon will meet Gabon in the next round.

This disrespect for women's football players has to stop and though egregious, there are similar examples around the world. In CONCACAF, a former national team coach told me that his women's team was booked into a literal "house of prostitution" in a Caribbean Football Union member country by the hosts in order to intimidate his team and save money; the side had to make other arrangements after arriving in the early hours of the morning. This report from DR Congo is one of the saddest stories we have heard in a long time and sets the women's game back so far. It must stop!



Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get yours copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey


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