Glorious Degla girls

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 23 Aug 2022

For the second year in a row, Egypt’s Wadi Degla football team are going to the finals of the 2022 African Women’s Champions League, reports Inas Mazhar

Women Wadi Degla football Team

Egypt’s Wadi Degla football team won the Women’s North Africa tournament to qualify for the final stage of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League. Qualification came after beating Tunisia’s Banque de l’Habitat 2-0 earlier this week at the Grand Agadir Stadium in the final day of the four-day, North African Union qualifiers.

Noha Solh showcased herself as a star of the decisive match by scoring a brace in the 62nd and 90th minute from a penalty kick. It was Solh’s second brace in the qualifiers after scoring two against Algerian club Afak Relizane.

Not surprisingly, Cairo-based Wadi Degla finished the qualifiers in first place with six points, recording two wins after defeating Afak Relizane 2-0 in the second match day. Banque de l’Habitat were stopped at the three points earned in the opening round by defeating Afak Relizane 3-1, who being scoreless, finished at the bottom of the ranking.

“We not only qualified for the CAF Women’s Champions League but won the North African tournament as well, which is an unprecedented achievement for Egyptian women’s football. It is the first time any [Egyptian women’s] club team or national team win any tournament,” Wa’el Al-Sayed, head coach of Wadi Degla, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“We are thrilled to be representing Egypt in the final competition of the CAF Women’s Champions League for the second time in a row and we hope to achieve a better result this time by making it among the top three,” Al-Sayed added.

Wadi Degla represented Egypt in the inaugural competition of the Women’s Champions League held in Cairo in November 2021. But Degla, despite the support of the home crowd, failed to make it to the knock-out stages, bidding an early farewell to the competition from the group stages. However, Al-Sayed and a few players went to the stadium after their exit to watch the other teams in the final stages, to learn. South Africa’s Memlodi Sundowns were crowned winners of the first edition.

“We started our serious preparations immediately after finishing the national FA Cup competition,” Al-Sayed said. “I gave them two weeks to rest because they were exhausted. It was very tough for them after the coronavirus as they had to play three seasons in a row, in addition to playing in the juniors and seniors women national teams. Most of my players are key players in the national teams. We started training by the end of June. Our first gathering was during the Eid holidays and I called on other players from other clubs like Mahir Ali from Gouna and Norhan Amr from Al-Tayran. We had a training camp in Ain El-Sokhna, then we played three friendly games in our club, two of them against the men’s 2006 and 2005 teams and the third with the women’s juniors. We won two and lost one,” Al-Sayed said.

“The North Africa qualifiers in Morocco were challenging. We played the first game missing two players because one of them tested positive for the coronavirus. Accordingly, her roommate had to be isolated as well. In the second match, we missed two more key players for the same reason. We also had two major players, Sherouk Sayed and Marwa Tawfik, leaving to turn pro. Thankfully, we managed to progress in the competition to the final.

“Women’s football needs support from the media in Egypt in order to develop and the Wadi Degla Club also need the support of the Egyptian Football Association in the coming stage as we prepare for the final competition. I would also like to thank the club management and head of delegation Hani Fouad for all the support, especially in Morocco. He was always with us, joining us in training, in the restaurant and the hotel as well as following up with the organisers in detail. I also thank my technical team staff, and the players for exerting huge efforts which brought us this unprecedented victory for Egyptian women’s football.”

Al-Sayed added that he had given the team one-week off after which they would meet again to start building up for the final competition.

According to CAF, Wadi Degla join host club ASFAR (Morocco), Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies FC (South Africa), and Green Buffaloes (Zambia) as the teams that qualified for the final competition.

Only four places remain. They will be determined after the conclusion of current or upcoming qualifiers in CECAFA, UNIFFAC, and WAFU A and B.

The final tournament of the second edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League is scheduled to be held in Morocco in October and November.

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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