18 June 2012

Tanzania: Mkwasa Accepts Defeat

Senior national women soccer team, Twiga Stars head coach, Charles Boniface Mkwasa, has conceded the team was fairly beaten by Ethiopia 'Lucy' in the return leg of the second round of the 2012 AWC Qualifiers, thus, the former should not look for a scapegoat.

Twiga Stars lost 1-0 to Lucy in the return leg duel played at the National Stadium on Saturday and the latter, therefore, qualified for the final with 3-1 goals aggregate after snatching a 2-1 win in the first leg match played in Addis Ababa a fortnight ago.

A well taken 66th minute goal by Lucy's striker, Berktawit Girma, killed whatever hope that Twiga Stars had as far as progression to the final was concerned and that, eventually, left the sizeable crowd, which turned up at the National Stadium to cheer Twiga Stars, dejected.

Mkwasa said his side did all it could to overturn the first leg score line but could not find way past the well organized Ethiopians, who exploited whatever weaknesses they spotted in the formers game. "I should simply say we reached where we could not go any further performance-wise.

Generally, slight technical mistakes committed by our team contributed to the defeat...we need to go back to the drawing board and set up better strategies," he said. Twiga Stars needed a 1-0 win over the visitors in the Saturday game to qualify for the 2012 AWC finals, to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea in November, this year, but it was Lucy, instead, that got the better of the hosts and made its maiden appearance in the major continental women soccer showpiece.

"We should hardly look for a scapegoat given that we were receiving our allowances on time during training and the training camp's environment was better," added Mkwasa. Mkwasa said Twiga Stars players might have had better preparations for the match but were still let down by less satisfactory preparations they normally have at their respective clubs, prior to joining the national team.

"The kind of preparations the players have at their respective clubs can also contribute to technical weaknesses they show at the national team. For instance, a player might get better preparations at the national team but poor preparations she had at her club, prior to joining the national team's camp, will surely affect her performance at the national team," he said.

Lucy's players and the technical bench were, ultimately, the happiest people shortly after the final whistle and the players could hardly conceal their delight at securing a berth to the finals, as they sang and danced wildly all over the pitch. Lucy's head coach, Abreham Haimanot, admitted the match was tough and his side's success was borne out of its ability to close down Twiga Stars' dependable left footed striker, Mwanahamisi Omary, throughout the game.

"The game was tough but we did our best to close down Twiga Stars' dependable player, no 11 (Mwanahamisi). She is so far the only dangerous player in Twiga, so, we marked her tightly and her team mates failed to thread passes to her...you can not depend on only one player to win," said Haimanot.

"We opted to play short passes, apart from compressing the defence and midfield and that also paid off because we easily frustrated our opponents' moves," he added. He said he now targets to strengthen his squad by bringing in new, young players to link with several experienced players he has in the squad and gun for a successful spell in the Equatorial Guinea finals.

"Our focus now is on excelling in the 2012 AWC finals in Equatorial Guinea in November, this year, so that we can qualify for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Turkey," he added.

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