First African women’s Champions League is in Cairo

Tuesday 2 Nov 2021

The inaugural African women’s Champions League will be played in Cairo. Al-Ahram Weekly highlights this maiden event

CAF Womens Champions Leagues
clockwise from top left: Wadi Degla (Egypt) ASFAR FC (Morocco) Vihiga Queens FC (Kenya) Hasaacas Ladies FC (Ghana)

The first edition of the TotalEnergies CAF (Confederation of African Football) Women’s Champions League kicks-off in Cairo on Friday 5 November.

This inaugural two-week tournament will be played in the 30 June and Al-Salam stadiums.

Eight teams are taking part in this newly-formed African Champions League. They were confirmed following regional qualifications that saw the six CAF regions host preliminary qualifiers in the past several months.

Wadi Degla (Egypt) automatically qualified as hosts. The club won their 12th domestic title (Women’s Premier League) this year.

AS Mande (Mali): They won the first two editions of Mali women’s First Division League (2017, 2021) and the National Cup four times (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016).

Hasaacas Ladies FC (Ghana): Winner of the regional qualifiers, the club was founded in 1996. They are four-time winners of the Ghanaian League (2013, 2014, 2015, 2021) and won the 2021 National Cup.

Rivers Angels (Nigeria): They finished runners-up of the regional qualifiers. Formed in 1986, they have won seven Nigeria Women’s League titles (1994, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2021) and eight National Cups (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018).

Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa): The club are the three-time winners of the South African Women’s Championship. They won their regional qualification recently in Durban, South Africa.

Vihiga Queens FC (Kenya): The Kenyan side have enjoyed dominance in their domestic competition, winning the Kenya Women’s Premier League (FKF WPL) in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

ASFAR FC (Morocco): They are eight-time Morocco League champions (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) and seven-time winners of the National Cup known as the Throne Cup (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019).

Malabo King FC (Equatorial Guinea): Title holder of Equatorial Guinea’s Primera Division Femenina (Women’s National League) and TNO Cup, they won UNIFFAC’s regional qualifiers.

A week before Friday’s event, CAF held a videoconference open to the media from around the world. The press conference was chaired by Kanizat Ibrahim, CAF fifth vice-president and chairperson of the CAF Women’s Football Organising Committee, and Isha Johansen, vice-president of the CAF Women’s Football Organising Committee. The press conference focused on the implementation of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League and its contribution to the development of women’s football in Africa.

The tournament will kick off on Friday 5 November in a match between Wadi Degla FC (Egypt) and AS Mandé (Mali) at the 30 June Stadium. The tournament will conclude with the final on Friday 19 November, also in Cairo.

For the tournament, CAF has appointed 25 match officials (12 referees and 13 assistant referees) from 19 African countries.

According to CAF, the appointed match officials will be closely monitored before and during the competition by a team of technical specialists, under the supervision of CAF Refereeing Director Eddy Maillet.

Wadi Degla Club, representing Egypt in the competition, are the most successful team in Egyptian women’s football, with a record 12 league titles. The women’s division of the multi-branched Cairo-based club was formed in 2007. In their first season they won the 2007-08 Egyptian Women’s League title. Last season (2020-21) they celebrated their 12th league title, the 11th in a row.

Wadi Degla SC is owned by Wadi Degla Holding, a group that includes different operating aspects including sports facilities,

telecommunications, industrial projects and real estate development.

Wadi Degla Holding launched the Wadi Degla Sporting Club in 2003. The club was initially based in Maadi before setting up several other branches in New Cairo, Heliopolis, 6th of October and Ain Sokhna.

Besides the men and women football teams, Wadi Degla also boast teams in handball, volleyball and swimming, among others. Wadi Degla Holding is also the owner of Lierse SK football club in Belgium.

Having an agreement with Premier League side Arsenal, Wadi Degla’s women played in the Arsenal Cup in London, winning the friendly tournament in 2008. In 2009, Wadi Degla hosted the invitational North Africa Tournament in Ain Sokhna Marina, with the top sides in North African leagues taking part. Wadi Degla finished in second place. In 2012, Wadi Degla won the Discovery Football Tournament in Berlin. They also won the Lebanon Friendly Cup in 2015. In addition to their record tally of 12 Egyptian league titles, Wadi Degla also won Egypt’s women’s cup for a record five times.

At the junior level, Wadi Degla won first place in Egypt’s Youth Tournament in 2016-17 and 2020-21 and are scheduled to take part in the promotional Red Bull Cup in Brazil in December.

“Being there for more than 15 years, Wadi Degla succeeded among sporting clubs with more than 148,000 families. Today we are starting a new chapter with our ladies team taking part in the first ever TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League as the champions of Egypt,” Wadi Degla Chairman Maged Sami told CAFonline. “We are really proud of the girls and supporting them to go distances in this flagship event.”

The maiden edition of the competition is newly introduced by CAF to develop women’s football in Africa, featuring top teams from all over the continent.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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