Strayed from the script

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 8 Nov 2022

Egypt’s Wadi Degla women’s football team returned home empty-handed, reports Inas Mazhar from Morocco

Strayed from the script


Head coach Wa’el Al-Sayed of the Egyptian women’s football team Wadi Degla had high ambitions of reaching the final stage of the second edition of the African Women’s Champions League currently being held in Morocco. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned.

For the second year in a row, the 13-time Egyptian league winners failed to go beyond the group stage of the eight-team competition after losing all three games of Group B in Marrakech. They lost to DR Congo’s TP Mazembe 1-0, 5-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and 3-0 to Bayelsa Queens of Nigeria. The Egyptians finished bottom of the group with no points and no goals scored.

The first edition of the event was held in Cairo November 2021. Wadi Degla took part in the maiden competition but failed to go further than the group stage. The title was won by Mamelodi Sundowns who seem to be this year’s favourite as well.

Despite Egypt losing their first two games, Al-Sayed was looking for a win and a place in the knockout round. However, their third loss in a row ended that hope.

Al-Sayed was not only disappointed with the outcome but blamed the Egyptian Football Association for not calling up the team’s international professional players from abroad.

“Just after winning the North Africa zonal competition and qualifying to the WCL 2022, I immediately contacted the EFA executive director and asked him to contact the clubs of the European-based players to join the team in the WCL in Morocco,” Al-Sayed told Al-Ahram Weekly. “He promised to contact them, however, the EFA never did and so we came to Morocco without them and it affected our performances and results.”

Degla defender Basant Abdel-Aziz told cafonline that the team came to the tournament with objectives. “We wanted to go further in this tournament, but unfortunately our journey stopped on Sunday at the final whistle in our match against Bayelsa Queens,” Abdel-Aziz said.

Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns together with tournament hosts ASFAR, Tanzania’s Simba Queens FC and Nigeria’s Bayelsa Queens made it to the semi-finals.

The semi-finals were scheduled to be played on Wednesday 9 November at the Prince Heritier Moulay El Hassan Stadium in Rabat, with the winners meeting in the final on Sunday 13 November at Moulay Abdallah Stadium. 

Prize money makes the competition the richest in women’s club football in the African continent. The champion will collect $400,000, the runner-up $250,000 while the semi-finalists are to earn $200,000 each. Third place winners will receive $150,000 while the fourth-placed team will receive a participation bonus of $100,000. 

On the sidelines, the tournament saw CAF holding other football activities, including Meet Coaches & Captains which brought together coaches and captains of groups A and B to discuss the progress of women’s football on the continent, the rapid need for development and the challenges it faces. The meeting, which was held in each group separately, was headed by Meskerem Tadesse Goshime, CAF head of the Women’s Football Development Department. The meetings were a continuation of the interviews carried out by CAF directly with players and coaches, to get their views and ideas on the development of women’s football on the continent.

“CAF’s mission is to further raise the standards of women’s football on the continent and especially to professionalise it. I am counting on you greatly and encourage you to feel free to express and share all your needs to improve our football,” Goshime said, addressing coaches and players in two sessions with the first held in Marrakech, then Rabat.

“We have put together a strategy for women’s football and its development since 2020. Training for coaches and zonal instructors, the implementation of girls’ schools’ programme, the increase of teams participating at WAFCON, and the creation of a Women’s Champions League, a prominent competition.

“To professionalise the structure surrounding women’s football, for the Champions League, we imposed contracts for players and licenses for the coaches. Despite how far we have come in this direction for the development of women’s football in our continent, there’s still a lot to do,” she added.

Following a presentation, Raul Chipenda, director of development, Goshime, Lamia Boumehdi, and Clementine Touré of the CAF Technical Study Group each had a “one-on-one” session with clubs’ representatives.

During the sessions, coaches and players were urged to freely open up about their career and personal experiences and to give their opinion on growing the women’s game in Africa. The interactive meeting offered CAF valuable observations and ideas, as the continent’s ruling body pushes to bridge the gap and also develop and boost women’s football.

On Monday, CAF also held a workshop about the WCL legacy called Women’s Club Management and Administration Workshop at the Complex Mohammed VI de Football. The workshop tackled CAF women’s football and club licensing; club structure, management and administration; club and players’ obligations and responsibilities in terms of contracts and transfers; female athlete’s health; women’s football benchmarking report; community engagement; and communications and marketing, sponsorship and creating partnerships.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 November, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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