THE feats of Tanzania Women U-17, U-20 and Uganda U-17 teams seek to end the long existed notion that African football is solely a Western and Northern Africa dominion.
Though South Africa and Zambia have each won the Africa Cup of Nations once. The world and Africa itself hardly part ways with the strong belief that West and North Africa are always superior to the rest of the continent in football.
The youthful Tanzanian and Ugandan teams, both coming from a region considered the lowest graded in FIFA rankings, did wonders in Tunisia, Mauritius and South Africa though they went there as invited guests.
Where men have been getting troubles to overcome the West and North African threats. Women are firmly heading for the football conquest taking it from the achievement of Tanzanian, Ugandan and even Kenyan women teams.
Though African football enthusiasts still believe that countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Togo and Nigeria dominate African football in terms of superiority that has been only on men’s discipline of AFCON.
Tanzania women team, Twiga Stars emerged the overall runners up in the just ended Union of North African Football Federations (UNAF) in Tunisia, a feat that won the team a big honour.
Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) saluted Twiga Stars for the good show despite finishing behind the winners Morocco. With most of its players still graded in U-17 and U-20 categories, the team paraded one of the best attacking forces whose four-match onslaught yielded 13 goals, making an average of 4.2 goals per match.
Twiga Stars also produced Mwanahamisi Omary, who netted 5 goals as the tournament’s top scorer. Mwanahamisi scored a brace during their 7-0 win over Mauritania and added the second brace during her team’s 3-2 win over Algeria. Morocco emerged the overall winners after winning all four matches pocket 12 maximum points.
They also finished with the best Goal Deference (GD) of +9. TFF commended both the players and the technical bench under Bakari Shime for the superb performance against African football giants Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania.
Among the most distinguished results recorded by Twiga Stars was the 7-0 blitz they handed to Mauritania during their campaign opener. The team went on to defeat giants Algeria 3-2 in their second match, before suffering a 3-2 loss to Algeria in their third match. In Port Louis, Mauritius, Uganda floored African women giants South Africa to COSAFA U-17 title.
Starting off the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Zambia nine days ago, Uganda, playing as the guest nation in this southern African competition, did not provide enough conviction to warrant them the credentials of the team to beat.
On the other hand, South Africa came into this competition with a huge favourites tag emblazoned all over them-for everyone to see. And a 28-0 walloping of minnows Seychelles in their opening game did well to illustrate just how close to accurate this narrative was.
The East African nation scored a late winner against the South African Bantwana on the artificial turf of St. François Xavier Stadium on Sunday to all but clinch the maiden title of a competition that has, on the evidence of the last nine days of action, laid a firm foundation for a new chapter in African women’s football.
After a splendid campaign the 16-year-old striker Juliet Nalukenge, the Ugandan skipper, who has scored a table-topping 18 goals in the campaign, received the Golden Boot award during the awards ceremony after the final. Her teammate and goalkeeper, Daphne Nyayenga, received the Golden Glove award, recognised for her solidity in between the goal posts.
She conceded only two goals in the entire competition. South African soil has been very friendly to the East Africans when it comes to football. Prior to the Ugandan Girls feat, Tanzania lifted the Women’s Under-20 Championship title after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Zambia in the final.
After a cagey beginning, Tanzania took the lead when Opa Sanga swept home a cross from the left-wing, her third goal of the tournament. It looked as though the game would be headed for penalties before Protasia Mbunda scored a stunning winner with five minutes remaining. That sparked wild scenes of celebration and Tanzania were able to hold on for the win and lift the trophy.
The Player of the Tournament prize went to Enekia Lunyamila from Tanzania, who was a star throughout. Though almost forgotten now, the Eastern part of Africa has a rich history with AFCON too as the first African country to host for this continental match back in 1957 was Sudan.
More interestingly, the hosts lost in the semifinals while neighboring Ethiopia lost the finals to Egypt leaving the Pharaoh’s to carry the record of the first Africa country to carry an AFCON title.
East Africa countries tried to show the best performance in late 1978 where the Uganda national soccer team, The Cranes reached the semifinals and went on to claim the bronze.
Since 1978 to date 2018, none of the Eastern African countries have reached that stage again. It is beyond doubt that the two regions’ football has been much publicized by their professional players who served European big leagues or big nations such as Marcel Desailly, Basile Boli, Claude Makelele, and Patrick Vieira, Asamoah Gyan, Mohamed and now Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
But slowly men’s football is also waking up from a slumber when the likes of MacDonald Mariga, Victor Wanyama and Tanzanian Mbwana Samatta rocked the football news by playing for big European clubs.
Still, East Africans must work hard to ensure their football standard develops further or else it will be always West and North Africans at the winners’ podium.