from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – BY qualifying for the quarterfinals of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup, Tanzania has enhanced its status from a continental force in the women’s version of the Beautiful Game to the global stage.
The Serengeti Girls, already basking in glory of being the first side from their country to contest a Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) competition in any age category, have been the surprise package at India 2022.
After an opening loss (4-0 to Japan), the East Africans have been on a golden run that has seen them brush aside more established outfits.
Tanzania has swat2012 champions France (2-1) and denied 2018 fourth-place finishers Canada a place in the quarterfinals following a one-all draw in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday.
The African outfit has qualified for the last eight alongside Japan, in a Group D in which Canada and France were tipped to accompany Japan to the knockout stages.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan (62), one of only two female presidents in Africa (alongside Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde), led the proud nation in singing praises of the heroines, who she described as her children.
“You have made me very happy, my children,” read a message she sent the team.
“You have done a great thing for our country Tanzania and I wish you the best in the quarter finals,” Hassan said.
One of three debutantes alongside Morocco and the hosts, the pioneering African team faces fellow first time quarter-finalists Colombia, on Saturday.
They have a date at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao, the commercial capital of the western state Goa, India’s smallest state by area.
Whatever the outcome, the Tanzanians will emerge the winners, for exceeding expectations.
Before the girls’ exploits on the world stage, Tanzania has been underlining its standing as an emerging force in the continent.
In October last year, they were crowned the champions of the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s Championships.
That completed a clean sweep of the tournaments on offer in Southern Africa.
At that time, the Tanzanians held titles in all the women’s categories in COSAFA.
These are the Under-17, Under-20 and senior football.
Meanwhile, in other quarterfinal matches, the United States plays Nigeria while Germany and Brazil are set for a blockbuster encounter. Both matches are scheduled for Friday.
Japan and Spain play on Sunday.
FIFA introduced the junior women’s tournament in 2008.
The highest finish by an African team was third-place by Ghana in 2012.
– CAJ News