Harare – Eight teams from the Council of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) have been paired against each other for the first round of the expanded 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Only the Brave Gladiators of Namibia will face a team outside COSAFA, Tanzania, for the right to progress to the second and final round of the qualifiers.
The 12-team tournament will be held in Morocco.
The four semi-finalists at the tournament will also seal their places at the 2023 Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
But before teams from Southern Africa can think about the world stage, they first have to cancel each other out and progress to the second round of qualifiers, which will determine the 11 countries that will join hosts Morocco for the biannual continental fiesta.
The draw for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations was conducted in Cairo, Egypt with 44 teams seeded based on location rather than the oft-used ranking system. The idea is to minimise travel distances in the initial stage of the competition.
Powerhouse South Africa face Mozambique while neighbours Malawi and Zambia are set for one of the most intriguing showdowns in the first stage of qualifiers. Zimbabwe take on Eswatini and Angola face off against Botswana.
Namibia, who last month produced sterling performances against Angola in a pair of friendlies, have avoided any Southern African pairing and will be out to hoist the region’s flag high when they take on Tanzania.
After the draw South Africa coach Desiree Ellis said: “We want to focus on qualifying for the Women’s Afcon first and then the World Cup later.”
Zimbabwe captain Talent Mandaza said, “These days every team is big and you want to prepare well for the assignment. Eswatini is one of the fast rising teams and we will see how it goes but we are taking one step at a time.”
Next year’s tournament will be the first to feature 12 teams following the cancellation of the 2020 fiesta due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The qualifiers for the 2022 Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s World Cup were also drawn at the same function overseen by CAF head of competitions Khaled Nessar.
The U17 World Cup is scheduled for India while the U20 fiesta will be held in Costa Rica next year.
2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers
Uganda v Ethiopia, Kenya v S Sudan, Eritrea v Burundi, Djibouti v Rwanda, Malawi v Zambia, Tanzania v Namibia, Zimbabwe v Eswatini, Angola v Botswana, Mozambique v S Africa, Algeria v Sudan, Egypt v Tunisia, E Guinea v DRC, Sao Tome & Principe v Togo, Congo v Gabon, CAR v Cameroon, S Leone v Gambia, Liberia v Senegal, Mali v Guinea, G Bissau v Mauritania, B Faso v Benin, Nigeria v Ghana, Niger v Cote d’Ivoire
Africa Women’s U20 World Cup Qualifiers 2022
1st Round: Djibouti v Eritrea, S Sudan v Rwanda, Eswatini v Mozambique, Mauritania v Tunisia, Niger v Benin, Togo v Mali, DRC v Sao Tome & Principe, E Guinea v CAR
2nd Round: Djibouti or Eritrea v Tanzania, Burundi v Namibia, Angola v Botswana, S Sudan or Rwanda v Ethiopia, Kenya v Uganda, Eswatini or Mozambique v S Africa, Zambia v Malawi, Mauritania or Tunisia v Ghana, Niger or Benin v Morocco, Gambia v B Faso, Togo or Mali v Senegal, Guinea v S Leone, Gabon v G Bissau, DRC or Sao Tome & Principe v Cameroon, Egypt v Congo, E Guinea or CAR v Nigeria. NB: Three further knockout rounds will decide the two African qualifiers for the finals
Africa Women’s U17 World Cup Qualifiers 2022
1st Round: Eritrea v S Sudan, E Guinea v Kenya, DRC v Rwanda, Senegal v S Leone, Benin v Mauritania (1st Legs: 13-15 January 2022; 2nd Legs: 27-29 January 2022)2nd Round: Cameroon v Eritrea or S Sudan, Zambia v Namibia, Djibouti v Burundi, Tanzania v Botswana, E Guinea or Kenya v S Africa, Uganda v Ethiopia, Egypt v G Bissau, Nigeria v DRC or Rwanda, Liberia v Guinea, Senegal or S Leone v Ghana, Niger v Sao Tome & Principe, Benin or Mauritania v Morocco. NB: Two further knockout rounds will decide the three African qualifiers for the finals