THE national women soccer team, Twiga Stars coach, Boniface Mkwasa was delighted to learn that his team next opponents in the Africa Women Championship (AWC) qualifiers would be Ethiopia, but said they will not underrate them.
Ethiopia cruised to the next round and booked a corresponding date with Twiga Stars after dispatching Egypt on Sunday. The Horn-of-Africa ladies nicknamed 'Dinkinesh' defeated their Egyptian counterparts 4-0 in the return leg match to advance to the first round on a 6-4 aggregate score.
They lost the first leg away in Cairo 4-2. And, Mkwasa insisted on Tuesday that the objective is to make it to the finals in Equatorial Guinea, saying further that he is confident Twiga Stars can get that far despite the problems that had faced the team in the past.
Mkwasa can see chinks in Ethiopians' armour and he definitely should have an idea of how to beat them because this is not the first time the two teams would be paired together. Twiga Stars sent Ethiopia packing in the same qualifiers on a 4-2 aggregate in 2009.
Twiga won 3-1 in the first leg away in Addis Ababa, before being held to a 1-1 draw in the return leg encounter in Dar es Salaam. "We know their strength and weaknesses. They (Ethiopians) are a very good side...the main feature of Ethiopia is that they play a lot of passing game and they are quick," said Mkwasa as he is looking forward to pitting his wits.
Mkwasa said his team will have to work an extra mile and this, the coach said, would require early preparations to keep players fit and focused ahead of May encounter. He said unlike the majority perception that the Ethiopians are underdogs when it comes to women soccer, but the side has a stronghold in the avenues since they have invested heavily in the area for the past two years.
"We have to work out our strategies properly, since it is not an easy task to defeat them as many people would wish to think," said Mkwasa. Mkwassa said majority of fans had given the Egyptians a chance to qualify for the next round as they are regarded as soccer giants but it was a different situation all together, thus the Ethiopians should not be undermined.
However, he promised to prepare his team to confront any side besides of the strength and weakness; the same applies to when they will meet the Ethiopians on May 25 in Addis Ababa. He pledged for public support so that Twiga Stars move early in camp for timely preparations ahead of their game against Ethiopians.
Meanwhile, a return leg African Women Championship qualifier between Twiga Stars and Namibia played last Sunday at the National Stadiumin Dar es Salaam fetched 38m/- Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), Information Officer, Boniface Wambura said on Tuesday that the amount was raised from a sale of tickets to 16,334 spectators who showed up to watch the game.
TFF praised the fans and stakeholders for their support which made the game between the two teams a success. Wambura also said that Twiga Stars captain, Sophia Mwasikili has landed a professional deal with a Turkish First Division side, Luleburgazgucu Spor Kulubu.
He said Mwasikili left on Tuesday morning aboard Turkish Airlines ready to honour her new contract with the club. The national team defender, Mwasikili who featured for Sayari FC before her new contract has signed a two-year contract. Wambura said Mwasikili was supposed to join the side early this year but had to remain behind until the return leg tie against the Namibians last weekend.