Senior national women’s team the mares are plotting to upset African football powerhouses by seeking a first FIFA world cup appearance.
A month after qualifying for its maiden Women Africa cup of nation’s (AWCON) tournament slated for this year in Morocco, the women senior national team is upbeat that the tournament can be used as a stringboard to qualify for the world biggest football showpiece.
The top four teams at this year’s AWCON tournament will directly qualify for the 2023 FIFA world cup in Australia and New Zeland.
The mares coach Gaolethoo Nkutlwisang told gazette sport that preparations for AWCON tournament have begun as the team has been on camp since last month and expected to break next week.
“We have been on camp since last week and we are going to break on the 15th, so we are hoping that we will also be able to secure an International friendly match,”
“We have summoned local players to the camp while our international based players will only join us when we assemble a full camp,” said Nkutlwisang.
She also said training camps continue to enable them to prepare for the much anticipated tournament, adding that the only challenge so far is injuries.
Nkutlwisang stated that they have submitted a plan to the Association which they intend to follow in the lead up to the tournament.
“We have requested to play a tournament with high profile opponents such as north African teams in our preparations but the most important thing right now is to wait observe which teams will be drawn in our group so that we intensify our preparations for those opponents,” added Nkutlwisang.
She said she is hopeful that the tournament will also be able to sell local players to big clubs.
“I have realized that most national teams in the continent have foreign based players and that on its own helps in terms of quality,” said Nkutlwisang.
She stated that they will not approach the AWCON tournament to add numbers but rather to use the underdog tag to compete.
“The tournament is open as you understand that top four teams will qualify for the world cup while two teams will go through the play offs so that on its own gives us an opportunity to qualify for the world cup,” added Nkutlwisang.
She highlighted that they have played some of the teams that have qualified for the tournament and as a result will aid them in their tactical preparations.
The mares has been making progress over the years as they showed that by reaching the cosafa cup final for the first time in history in 2020.
The team is expected to be motivated by the continued support from both government and the private sector heading into the tournament.
The team was recently awarded P300 000 by mining giant Lucara before government also gave the team a sum of P557 500.
The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Development pleaded with the private sector to help boost the morale of the team through financial donations as they head to Morocco to put up a fight.