Namibia: Magicians Welcome Champions League Draw

TURA Magic will have to overcome tough opposition in Zambia's Green Buffaloes and Zimbabwe's Black Rhino Queens to make an impression in the inaugural CAF Women's Champions League.

The match-up for the Cosafa qualifier, to be played from 26 August and 4 September, was conducted in South Africa yesterday.

Green Buffaloes, which has several key players of Zambia's Olympic squad, are the hot favourites in the three-team Group B.

Namibia Women's Football chairperson Monica Shapua says the country's game would benefit immensely from Tura Magic's tough assignment given the scarcity of regular competitive action in the country.

"It's a good draw for us. It's history in the making for Namibia to be represented at such a high level by a local team. I'm extremely excited for Tura Magic and for women football to be able to showcase our talent outside the country," she told The Namibian when reacting to the draw.

"It's going to be an uphill battle because of lack of football activity in the country due to imposition of non-contact sport. However, we are going out there to represent our country with pride and hope to advance to the continental stage," said Shapua who doubles up as a Tura Magic executive member.

"This is every player's dream, hopefully we will have two or more players that can sign professional contracts which would boost our national team. I am definitely looking forward to the tournament."

Group A top seed South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies are pitted against Lesotho Defence Force, Double Action Ladies from Botswana and Eswatini's Manzini Wanderers.

The top two teams in each pool will advance to the semi-finals. It is the first time Cosafa are staging a club competition, with the winner to advance to the continental showpiece event that is set for later in the year.

The Magicians co-director Isack Hamata is looking forward to his side gauging their strength against heralded rivals.

"We expected to be drawn into any group and against any team. It so happened that we are in the tougher group but that is not our big concern. We want to go out there and make Namibians proud as well as give our girls an opportunity on the big stage," Hamata said.

"It is their moment to savour. It is also an opportunity to test how strong we are as the champion team in Namibia and what we still need to do to get to the desired level of competition in order to help turn the domestic women's league into a competitive league," he continued.

"We are also hoping that our girls will use the opportunity to attract the attention of scouts. Our biggest challenge from a preparation point of view was the prohibition of contact sports. We will need to work twice as hard to get the girls to peak at the right time within the coming three weeks. That is if regulations change," he said.

The stakes go beyond high beyond regional bragging rights and provides plenty to play for over the 10 days of competition, says Cosafa general secretary Sue Destombes.

"This is a momentous day for us in the Cosafa region. This is something that we have had on our radar for a while, but it's a great initiative from CAF to initiate a Champions League competition and do the qualifiers at a zonal level," she said.

"We have seven countries taking part in 2021, but next year we hope to have all 14 of our member associations participating. This is just the start, but we are putting a peg in the ground."

The competition will be followed almost immediately by the Cosafa Women's Championship that will take place from September 9-19 in Nelson Mandela Bay. - cosafa.com

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