Hopefully better

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 25 Oct 2022

Wadi Degla will get another shot at the 2022 African Women’s Champions League, reports Inas Mazhar

Hopefully better

 

Egypt’s Wadi Degla football team is ready to take part in, and maybe this time win, the final tournament of the 2022 African Women’s Champions League.

This is the second year in a row the Egyptian women’s team will be going to the final competition, having participated in the inaugural edition which was held in Cairo last year. 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 while still in the group stage.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) launched the CAF Women’s Champions League in 2021 with the first edition played in Cairo in November. South African club Mamelodi Sundowns won the maiden event after defeating Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies 2-0. 

The latest competition will take place from 30 October to 13 November in Rabat and Marrakech, Morocco. Eight clubs from the different CAF zones are taking part in this second edition. The participants went through zonal competitions to decide the qualifiers to the final tournament.

The teams are divided into two groups. Group A includes the host club, ASFAR (Morocco), Simba Queens SC (Tanzania), Green Buffaloes (Zambia) and Determine Girls (Liberia), while Group B includes Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), Bayelsa Queens (Nigeria), Wadi Degla (Egypt) and TP Mazembe (DR Congo).

Wadi Degla made it to the second edition by winning 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 at the Grand Agadir Stadium in the final day of the four-day, North African Union qualifiers.

Not surprisingly, Degla finished the qualifiers in first place with six points, recording two wins after defeating Afak Relizane of Algeria 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,” Wael Al-Sayed, head coach of Wadi Degla, told Al-Ahram Weekly. “It is the first time any [Egyptian women’s] club team or national team win any tournament.

“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.

The 49-year-old coach Al-Sayed has a record of 14 Egyptian women’s league titles, two as head coach in 2021 and 2022, seven Egyptian Cups and one North African Champions League title in 2021, all achieved within a span of 20 years during his professional career. 

He is also a household name within the women’s football community in Egypt following his impactful journey with Wadi Degla. Al-Sayed played a prominent role in the 14 Egyptian league title hauls with the club and seven cups.

In 2008, he joined the club as an assistant coach before his elevation to head coach. Under his tutelage, the team won back-to-back titles in 2021 and 2022, and recently the 2022 North African Club Championship in Morocco, ensuring a back-to-back appearance at the Champions League finals.

After a disappointing group stage exit on home soil, Al-Sayed’s experience will be depended upon to fixing the missteps of 2021.

The maiden edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League in Egypt in 2021 saw no prize money, but ahead of the competition CAF announced that the second edition will see cash awards.

According to CAF’s prize structure, the winners of the competition will take home $400,000 while the runners-up will take $250,000. The two losing semi-finalists will each receive $200,000. The two teams finishing third in their respective group will each receive $150,000 while the fourth ranked teams of their group will each receive $100,000.

The CAF Women’s Champions League is the flagship competition of women’s club football on African soil and a giant step towards advancing women’s football on the continent.

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