Early Planning Needed for 2022 Awcon

Following the announcement of Morocco as hosts for the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, ZIFA technical director Wilson Mutekede says planning has to start now to ensure they have a competitive side.

The announcement by the Confederation of African Football last Friday is good news for women’s football after the 2020 tournament was cancelled and it is probably a boost to the North African country’s efforts to promote women’s football.

Morocco have been making strides in developing the women’s game and last year the Royal Moroccan Football Federation unveiled a four-year development plan built on sporting development, financial investment and technical growth.

They are aiming to have 1 000 licensed female coaches and 90 000 active female footballers by 2024. And Zimbabwe can draw lessons from such initiatives.

Mutekede said planning starts now and under the current situation they have to apply to the Sports Commission for approval so that they can start periodic camps.

“Basically, what it means is there is quite a lot of planning that needs to be put in place now. One thing that quickly comes to mind is because of the current pandemic, how we need to schedule the training camps.

“We are going to sit down in terms of seeing the possibilities, in terms of budgeting and everything and the training camps that we want to hold.

“Women’s football really needs time in terms of players. They need time to work together in terms of conditioning and making sure they are ready to compete. We don’t want to just go this time around and make up numbers,” said Mutekede.

Mutekede believes they have a good base to build from with emerging talent from the Under-20 team, which can be blended into the senior side.

The Young Mighty Warriors were involved in the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers before they were called off.

They had beaten Malawi 2-1 on aggregate in the preliminary round to progress to the first round of the qualifiers.

Most of the players from the Under-20 side made up the Mighty Warriors team that played at the Cosafa Women’s Championship in South Africa late last year.

“It is good that we have an Under-20 team that was doing so well, which means we have good depth in terms of quality players as far as women’s football is concerned . . . I think when they cancelled (the World Cup qualifiers) our Under-20’s were still in and due to play Ethiopia, so it means we have some competent players that we need to work on.

“We are going to also try and make sure the coaches are going to work together in terms of really refining them and having more training camps and training games.

“Obviously there is going to be a fusion because the other previous Mighty Warriors (side) was also good but we had players that were on the other side but there is good emergence of talent from the Under-20s that were coming through,” said Mutekede.

Prior to the cancellation of last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, CAF had made a positive step to expand the women’s tournament from eight to 12 teams.

The draw had already been done and Zimbabwe were set to take on Mauritius in the first round of the qualifiers that were scheduled for April.

Mutekede said they are still waiting for more details on the draw for next year’s tournament.

“We are not certain yet. I think by Monday, Tuesday we would have more details in terms of that. I will check with the competition guys how far the planning has gone in terms of the draws and are they getting new draws or we are continuing as we were. But I think what is important on our side is to then prepare a team that can go and compete.

“Obviously we are planning around arranging preparatory matches against our neighbours. Something that we had already discussed with a number of technical directors in the region that those teams that are still in, we can then engage in terms of games so that we also get to work on psychological preparedness and tactical preparedness.

“So we are looking at really quite a lot of work. But as we go we have to monitor everything, we have to measure everything in terms of performance indicators. This time around we really want to go there and compete rather than just making up numbers,” Mutekede said.

Zimbabwe’s last appearance at the tournament was in 2016 in Cameroon. They were eliminated in the group stages. In 2018 they failed to qualify for the biennial tournament that was staged in Ghana after losing to Zambia.

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