World Cup dream still alive for quartet at WAFCON 2022

A quartet of teams are hoping to take a step closer to realising their dreams of playing at the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup when they contest recharge matches at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations for a place in the inter-continental play-offs next year.

Senegal take on Tunisia and Botswana meet Cameroon on Sunday with the teams having lost their quarterfinal clashes earlier this week.

The winners of these ties will advance to the 10-team global play-offs in New Zealand in February, where they will contest for the three remaining spots available at the finals.

Taiwan, Thailand, Haiti and Panama are four sides who have already booked their places in that tournament.

Wafcon debutants Botswana remain hopeful of sealing their place but the much more experienced Cameroon stand in their way.

The Mares lost to Morocco in their quarterfinal, while Cameroon were beaten by Nigeria, certainly no disgrace in either of those defeats.

Botswana also played South Africa and the Nigerians in the group stages, so could not have asked for a tougher set of matches in the competition. This will be another one.

“We have played against tough teams that have international players and for us, it is our first time at this tournament. I think we have learnt from these games but also, Cameroon is a team like any other. Yes, it is a high-ranked team, but we know how to approach these games. We know what we can do,” Botswana coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang said.

“This is going to be one of our toughest preparations for a game in terms of what lies ahead but generally looking at what we displayed during the tournament especially in our last game against Morocco with the stadium fully packed, we are motivated going into our next game with Cameroon.

“Seeing the way Cameroon played against Nigeria, we are motivated that we can do better. We have analyzed their strength and weaknesses and we hope that we can win this game and qualify to the next playoff tournament.”

Cameroon coach Gabriel Zabo has played down his side’s tag as favourites ad is expecting a tough challenge from The Mares.

“I believe that Botswana and us are equal. We will play to our best. Losing to Nigeria woke us up and now we have turned our focus to qualifying for the World Cup. We will keep our hope to achieve this because we need to win this match. We will do our best,” Zabo says.

“Football is a matter of skill and some luck. We have not scored many goals at this tournament. We drew against Zambia in the first game, found the back of the net against Togo and then found our feet against Tunisia. Against Nigeria, we struggled to score but we have been working on correcting our mistakes and we want to do better against Botswana.”

“Our goal is to qualify for the World Cup. The Wafcon title is now history. We still have hope for qualifying and our focus is now to do that.”

Senegal must put behind then a penalty shoot-out loss to Zambia in the quarterfinals, while Tunisia were edged 1-0 by South Africa.

“We have to build on our past experience, so we don’t repeat the mistakes we made in our last game against Zambia. We showed excellent things in our first meetings at this tournament, we will have to come back to it,” Senegal coach Mame Moussa Cisse said.

“Only the final score will count, more than our performance in the game. Against Zambia, we led, played well but we ended up being eliminated. I don’t want the same scenario.”

Tunisia coach Samir Landolsi hopes his side can find the mental fortitude for one last battle.

“We had to boost the girls after the defeat against South Africa. Travel also between Casablanca, Rabat and Casablanca again, moving all our logistics, has been challenging. Physically, the girls are still in top shape, but they are a little affected psychologically,” he said.

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