The preliminary round of the 8th African Women's Championship 2012 gets underway across the continent this weekend with the first leg matches. The finals will be held in Equatorial Guinea in November but the road to Malabo begins with the ten matches on this weekend. Senegal would have been playing Burundi but the latter withdrew from the competition.
Botswana side will be keen to follow in the footsteps of their male counterparts and reach their first ever continental finals but the first steps to that goal begin with contest against neighbours Zimbabwe at University of Botswana Stadium in Gaborone on Saturday. It is the same venue where the Orange CAN 2012 finals bound Zebras men's side played out a 0-0 draw against Zimbabwe last Saturday and the Botswana women's side would gladly take the same result this weekend.
Zimbabwe women's side nicknamed, Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza promised not to take the hosts lightly. The Botswana side has been preparing thoroughly for the match and after long training camp indications are that the team standard and level of play will be up from previous participation.
Mugadza went on to say "We have also done our part though and have been in camp since last week and I think the girls are ready for the match. The friendly match we played against South Africa on 22nd December also helped us a lot and we are going to Botswana to attack and get a positive result".
Meanwhile Zambia women's team, She-polopolo will clash with Malawi on Saturday at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka. Zambia coach Enala Simbeye was confident that here charges would come out with a good result despite facing a strong Malawi side. Simbeye said in previous matches her team was not up to expected standard in terms of fitness and sharpness in front of goal.
The coach was pleased that recent work in training had made good progress on these areas leaving her happy and confident of victory. "We feel we have done most of what we saw was a problem with the team, especially scoring and shooting from afar. I am happy that the girls managed to score during the friendly games we have played. So far so good, we are focused on winning the match," concluded Simbeye.
In Cairo Mohamed Fathi coached home side will welcome Ethiopia hoping for more inspirational leadership and goals from captain Haiam Abdel Hafiz. As part of their preparation for this weekend's competition Egypt played a number of friendly matches in Cairo and Haiam Abdel Hafiz was influential. It was her superb striker in their last match against Uganda that won the match on 20th December 2011, the last time Fathi's team was in action.
Uganda will host DR Congo in Kampala and team coach Majidah Nantanda will be hoping to build on the positive outcome of their matches. According to Nantanda her charges have recently shown pleasing improvement and will be ready for the Congolese. The second leg matches will be played in two weeks time. Four teams, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa have a bye for this preliminary round of the competition.
The rest of the matches on this weekend are as following:
Botswana vs. Zimbabwe
Côte d'Ivoire vs. Guinea
Egypt vs. Ethiopia
Namibia vs. Tanzania
Kenya vs. Mozambique
Zambia vs. Malawi
Morocco vs. Tunisia
Botswana vs. Zimbabwe
Uganda vs. RD Congo
Mali vs. Ghana