Africa's road to Germany begins

Congo DR led a charge of six teams into the first round of the CAF African Women’s Championship qualifiers and one step closer to a possible place at next year's FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.

Yvonne Malembo and Tresorine Nzuzi scored twice for the Congolese as they won 5-2 in Kinshasa at the weekend to add to their 2-0 away triumph in the first leg of their preliminary round tie earlier this month. Also through are Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Namibia, Senegal and Tanzania, who all came through their first round assignments at the weekend.

They now join up with defending African women’s champions Equatorial Guinea along with Algeria, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Tunisia in the final round of qualifying, with seven teams to go through to October’s finals, along with hosts South Africa. There, the two qualifiers for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup will be decided.

I know how strong they are. We will have to work hard to get up to their level.
Ivorian coach Clementine Traore on Nigeria

The reward for the Congolese, whose U-20 sides have represented Africa at previous FIFA women’s tournaments, is a two-legged tie in the second round against Cameroon. Malembo got the scoring going in the 20th minute but Botswana equalised straight back through Toto Ramsai. However, within seven minutes, Congo DR were 4-1 up as Malembo added a second and then Nzuzi burst through with two goals in four minutes, effectively killing off the slim hopes of the visitors.

The Ivorians, meanwhile, overcame Gabon with a 3-1 weekend win in Abidjan but now have to face mighty Nigeria, who have never missed out on a place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. “I know how strong they are,” said the Ivorian coach Clementine Traore after disposing of Gabon 5-2 on aggregate. “We will have to work hard to get up to their level. We did well in the second leg against Gabon to correct the errors we had made in the first. The girls have really progressed well and I’m very satisfied with the discipline in the squad.”

Namibia’s Welwistchias qualified at the expense of Angola, drawing 1-1 in Benguela on Sunday in front of some 30,000 spectators at the Ombaka National stadium, recently built for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Namibia were 2-1 up from the first leg but always in potential peril, given Angola had scored a potentially vital away goal in the first leg.

Angola duly set themselves up for progress in Sunday’s return when Irene Goncalves had scored in the 51st minute but a last-gasp equaliser from Kleintjie Fredericks saw Namibia go through 3-2 on aggregate. The Namibians, whose nickname is taken from the unique desert plant that grows in the country, have had considerable assistance from top German coaches in recent months.

Elsewhere, Mamy Ndiaye scored the all-important away goal that saw Senegal beat Morocco at the Stade Boubker Amar in Sale to go through 1-0 on aggregate. “We dominated the game and should have scored a lot earlier,” said Ndiaye, who plays her club football in Sweden and is the only professional in Senegal’s team.

Tanzania’s Twiga Stars came from behind to draw 1-1 with Ethiopia in Dar-es-Salaam but had won 3-0 away in the first leg in Addis Ababa a fortnight earlier. Guinea drew 1-1 in Sierra Leone to win through 4-3 on aggregate, setting up a tie against Mali, who were given a bye when Togo pulled out.