from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – THE crowning of Tanzania’s senior women’s football team as the regional champions gives credence to the adage that all is well that ends well.
This is besides enhancing the country status as a rising force in the women’s version of the Beautiful Game in Africa.
Prior to the team’s departure, President Samia Suluhu Hassan caused a stir for her remarks about women footballers having “flat chests” and suggesting they would not be attractive candidates for marriage.
The remarks were made in late August as the Twiga Stars prepared for the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s Championships.
This week, the president’s mood was joyous.
She heaped praise on the national women’s team after they were crowned the champions of the tournament played in the Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province.
“The Twiga Stars national team has continued to build respect in Tanzania after successfully winning the Cup,” she said.
The president was addressing the nation at the launch of the Development Campaign which brought together leaders, citizens and various political and development stakeholders at the Jakaya Conference Hall in the administrative capital, Dodoma.
Earlier, she expressed delight after the senior men beat Benin 1-0 in the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) 2022 World Cup qualifiers last weekend.
Hassan amplified the performance of the women, adding the latest tournament won, as well as those by the female juniors in regional competitions, had earned the nation some respect.
By completing a clean sweep of the tournaments on offer in Southern Africa, Tanzania has underlined its standing as a force to reckon with in the continent.
The Twiga Stars last weekend beat Malawi 1-0 in the final, securing a deserved trophy after dislodging the hosts as the new queens of the regional tournament.
To highlight their dominance, Tanzania scored ten times and conceded ones, having first won all three group matches against Botswana, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
That was before they drew 1-1 against Zambia in the semifinal, which they prevailed on penalties.
Amina Bilali added to the impressive campaign by receiving the Player of the Tournament accolade.
The Tanzanians now hold titles in all the women’s categories in COSAFA.
These are the Under-17, Under-20 and senior football.
Last year, the juniors were crowned champions of the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship after beating Zambia in the final.
That added to the COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship title from 2019, with Zambia again the beaten finalists.
“We are happy to go home with the (another) COSAFA trophy,” senior women’s coach, Bakari Shime, said after senior team won the tournament in South Africa.
The rising dominance of the Twiga Stars has not gone unnoticed globally.
The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) believes the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship win demonstrate that the talent pool in African women’s football is growing at an exponential rate.
Thus, the upcoming African zone FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifiers will be a mouth-watering prospect.
The first round matches are scheduled to be played between next Monday (October 18) to the 26th.
Ranked 22nd in the continent and 142 globally, Tanzania’s queens begin their qualification campaign against Namibia.
Tanzania’s senior women have been on a brilliant run over the past two years.
They have won five of the seven matches played during the period, only dropping points in the draw with Zambia, mentioned above, and a loss to Botswana (0-1) in the COSAFA Women’s Championship 2020.
– CAJ News