Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 A year of Expectations- African Women's Soccer

2011 was a busy year for women's soccer in Africa with some countries chalking success whiles others hit below the belt in various competitions. The top 2 nations,namely Nigeria and Ghana saw dwindling fortunes in their failure to qualify for the Olympic games having been shown the exit by countries many considered light weights in women's soccer in Africa.

At the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany 2011,Nigeria played under a female coach, won it's game  in their FIFA women's world cup history against Canada(a first) after which they succumbed to the less fancied Cameroon in their Olympic games qualifier,prior to losing to Ghana in the All Africa Games qualifier and thus failing to earn a place in Maputo,also a first in Nigeria's All Africa Games qualification history.

Ghana on the other hand will see their young under 23 women's team claw their way to second place at the All Africa games in Maputo,Mozambique, which in some circles is a disappointment considering the high hopes embedded in them by their nation but all the same credit must be given to the young women for their hard work and perseverance.

The entire world saw controversy riddled Equatorial Guinea make their debut at the world stage, spear headed by mercurial Genoveva Anonma,who dazzled with her sublime ball skills and charisma.Unfortunately their Cinderella story was short lived when they were banned by FIFA for the use of ineligible players which saw them expelled from the Olympic games qualifiers but there is no doubting the potential in the Equatorial Guinean team. Ranked the 3rd best on the continent,they are a force to be reckoned with.

Then came the COSAFA women's championship where Zimbabwe caused some ripples in the region by beating the favorites-South Africa at the finals and replicating their performance later on by beating them once more and convincingly as that. Does this spell the end of South Africa's dominance in women's soccer in the region ? Perhaps South Africa will revel in their historic qualification for the Olympic games but the Zimbabweans will forever remain their fiercest rivals and a team to beat. Credit goes to Rosemary Mugadza  and her team of handlers for ending the year 2011 on a high note but there's much more work to be done.

Women's soccer on the continent is indeed improving however more nations need to get involved with the development of the sport bearing in mind the positives underlying the women's game.One simple truth Africa can boast of where women's soccer is concerned, is the abundance of raw talent on the continent. The mind boggling question therefore is why certain nations are not doing enough to harness the potential but would rather play politics with the women's game ? 

The plight of Kenya and others is one that can not be left unmentioned here.The disappointment in having to pull out of competitions for financial reasons saddens the heart of many and the neglect of  the women's game by some FA's needs more to be desired. The onus falls on all stake holders to take responsibility for the pit falls as they find solutions to the problems that plague them.

Though there seems to be little  activity on the North African front, Tunisia showed up at the All Africa games with a point to prove and with the present uncertainties in Egypt not much can be said about the women's game in that region.However, there is always hope for the future of the women's game in North Africa.

2012 is here and much is expected of Africa at the world stage. As Cameroon and South Africa  represent the continent at the London Olympic Games,qualifiers for various competitions at all levels will be played and all eyes will be fixed on the administrators and players alike on how they the handle affairs of the women's game. It is the fervent hope of the lovers of the women's game that Cameroon and South Africa though first timers, give  five-star performances at the Olympics, there by lifting the image of the African game. 

May the experiences of the past year spur us on to success in this new year. HAPPY NEW YEAR !

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