Focus on Africa

It’s been a busy soccer week in Africa, what with the COSAFA championships and Nigeria’s bid to host the Under-20 World Cup next year. Here’s a recap…

South Africa retain their COSAFA title

A hat-trick of consecutive COSAFA titles for South Africa.

Hosts South Africa won their third consecutive COSAFA Women’s Championship last weekend with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Zambia in Port Elizabeth. The COSAFA Women’s Championship is a tournament for teams from Southern Africa organized by Council of Southern Africa Football Associations, which Banyana Banyana have now won on six occasions, more than any other nation in the region.

Tiisetso Makhubela  22′ scored the decisive strike on 22 minutes in the Wolfson Stadium, seizing on Hazel Nali’s goalkeeping error and rifling into the roof of the net. It was hard on the Shepolopolo stopper who’d otherwise had a good game.

The Runners-up spot will have a bittersweet taste for Beauty Mwamba’s Zambia. It’s never nice to lose a final but second place is their best ever finish at the tournament, beating three previous bronzes medals. In addition, striker Rachael Nachula won the Golden Boot (10 goals) and Hellen Mubanga was named Player of the Tournament.

South Africa’s Andile Dlamini secured the Golden Glove as best keeper and Mamello Makhabane would celebrate her 100th cap for her country. The 31-year old made her debut in 2005 and has score 18 goals for Banyana Banyana.

South African Coach Desiree Ellis also won the trophy as a player and used the lessons learned and experiences of RSA’s recent world cup adventure to good effect, preparing a confident squad that always looked like it had the title within its grasp .

They eased past 2011 winners Zimbabwe 3-0 in the semi-finals, while Zambia’s 4-0 victory over Botswana was even more emphatic.

It’s an exciting time for South African Women’s football with the federation, SAFA, announcing the start of a new 12-team National Women’s League which is launching at the end of August. Former SAFA Assistant Technical Director, Fran Hilton-Smith, believes the national team will be a far greater force to be reckoned with by the next Women’s World Cup in 2023.

Speaking at the COSAFA championships, the 66-year old believes developing their own league will enable more regular matches, increase the standard of competition and drive professionalisation of the game, opening up opportunities for individuals to put themselves in the shop window for other top leagues around the world.

In the past Hilton-Smith has insisted that, ultimately, she would like to see more African players heading overseas to in order to face a stiffer test and improve standards.  Indeed, forward Ode Fulutudilu has played for ONS in Finland and Málaga in Spain. She is now being linked with a move to an as-yet unnamed Dutch club. Pacey striker, Thembi Kgatlana, is at Beijing BG Phoenix and central defender, Janine van Wyk, has played for Houston Dash in the US.

Working as part of a Technical Study Group for both the senior and U-20 COSAFA tournaments, Hilton-Smith sees Banyana Banyana’s continued success in the regional competition as useful preparation for the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers, having previously made it to London in 2012, and Rio in 2016.

Longer term the Technical Study Group’s aim is to help the many smaller footballing nations in Africa to develop players and infrastructure.

Tanzania win inaugural U-20 COSAFA championship

Victorious Tanzania U-20s.

Tanzania were crowned inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Champions beating Zambia 2-1 in the final. 

Opa Sanga opened the scoring for Tanzania converting her third goal of the tournament. Zambia equalised after half time through Loveness Malunga who drove home from the edge of the box. With just five minutes left Protasia Mbunda seized on a clearance 30-yards out and hammered it past Anna Mukumbuta, who had no chance.

The teams had met earlier in the group stages with Zambia running out winners by the same score-line, but this time it was the East Africans who held their nerve to secure the title.

Tanzania’s Enekia Lunyamila won Player of the Tournament with some scintillating displays. Zambia picked up the Golden Boot and Best Keeper awards, respectively, through Maylan Mulenga (5 goals) and Cynthia Shonga.

Nigeria bid to host Under-20 World Cup

“Legacies” – Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigerian Football Federation.

Nigerian politicians and football officials are making a concerted and collaborative effort to win the right to host next year’s Under-20 Women’s World Cup. While the country has hosted U-17 and U-20 competitions before Amaju Pinnick, President of the NFF, feels strongly that: “hosting the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in 2020 will leave a lot of legacies beyond the physical; it will impact on humanity.”

The belief is that hosting the tournament will enable Nigeria to fast-track the emergence of new female players, such as current stars Desire Oparanozie and Asisat Oshoala, as well as investment in the women’s game. *From Twitter:

“[T]he benefits of hosting world-class events and tournaments have been thrashed in a lot of conversations. From the provision of new facilities to the upgrading of existing facilities; both sporting and otherwise, to the massive boost in the local economy. Then the most important aspect of these competitions, in my point of view, is the emergence of new football stars.”

Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigerian Football Federation

A FIFA team have inspected the five venues in Lagos, Benin City, Asaba and Uyo, as well as the associated facilities. Football’s world governing body also sought Nigerian government assurances.

Meeting with FIFA officials at the Presidential Villa, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, would confirm the Federal government is “100%” behind proposals:

“We are actually excited with the prospect of hosting the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in 2020. For us, football is a unifying force. Government interest in hosting is beyond commercial; football is a measure of unity and wellbeing of our people as diverse as we are.”

Yemi Osinbajo, Nigerian Vice President

While infrastructure, security and logistics are all key elements in winning hosting rights, Pinnick has also been keen to emphasise how transparency and accountability in the organisation of the tournament will be central to the Nigerians’ approach, confirming an anti-corruption consortium (Compliance Committee of Nigeria) would be set up.

“From the start of this process to the end of it, we will be as transparent as we possibly can. Hopefully, with the support of all Nigerians, we will deliver a worthy tournament for our women.”

Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigerian Football Federation

A 16-team Nigeria Women’s Premier League (NWPL) was launched on the 24th July 2019, further supporting the development of elite women’s football and aiming to generate a pipeline of talent for the national team.

And finally…

Plug pulled – ‘Triple A’ in France

‘Triple A tells her story’ tonight on her Facebook page at 20:00 GMT on Monday, August 12…

The charismatic Ghanaian female sports reporter has revealed how Metro TV pulled the plug on her ‘Fabulous France’ TV series. The only journalist from Ghana covering the Women’s World Cup, she had been commissioned to make several episodes throughout the tournament including interviews, features and analysis.

Things seemed to be going well up to the second episode with Metro TV’s audience reportedly responding well, but the show was mysteriously axed without any formal communication with Triple A.

Interviewed by respected reporter, Samuel Ekow Amoasi Appiah, ‘Triple A’, will literally, ‘tell her Story’ expressing her anger with Metro TV about the way things unfolded. Although, she’s been fairly outspoken prior to the main event:

“The first two episodes aired on Metro TV; something that gave me vim to continue. And then something happened, and it turned out that they interrupted the broadcast.  So that was very difficult to take. Imagine yourself: you’re in Europe. You are breaking your back, filming, interviewing, translating, subtitling, mounting your videos alone — like you are doing everything alone and packaging everything for it to air in Ghana as per the agreement you had with the TV station and you end up being told that, We cannot continue to air your content… for some reasons that had been forecast!

Triple A

Feeling a strong need to speak out about her dissatisfaction, and defend her right to do so, the award-winning writer and presenter continues:

“So that was super hard to take but Triple A does not break down. So, I picked myself back up and I continued. Whether you’re more into the entertaining side like I’m into, or you are more into the investigative side, you need to be able to talk without fear. I know that right now, with everything that I’ve said in this interview, I know that some people are going to be offended because I talked about Metro TV interrupting my thing… but I need to talk about it. I have a mouth and whatever happens — especially when it’s not professional — I cannot sweep it under the carpet.”

Triple A

One to watch on catch up perhaps?…

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