… Black Rhinos look to rampage
Namibia’s representatives in the CAF Women’s Champions League/Cosafa qualifiers, Tura Magic, may not be the favourites to win the crown. But they will not stop believing.
Regional qualifiers for the continental tournament will see seven clubs from Southern Africa competing in Durban, South Africa from August 26 to September 4. The winners of the contest will grab the sole ticket to represent Southern Africa at the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League in Cairo, Egypt in December.
Tura Magic are in Group B along with Zimbabwe’s Black Rhinos Queens and Green Buffaloes of Zambia.
Group A comprises Mamelodi Sundowns, Lesotho Defence Forces, Double Action of Botswana and Manzini Wanderers of eSwatini.
With their newly-appointed coach Timo Tjongarero, Tura Magic are optimistic of going all the way to Cairo.
The former Namibia Football Federation technical director and Under-17 coach told the Cosafa Podcast Show: “We’ve been at the Cosafa before and the experience is there, so for me it is just to work closely with the guys who have been with the team in the past few months to guide me and familiarising myself with current players.
“I believe all the players want this; they want to win. That’s the take-off point, despite having limited time to prepare. But we will make use of the remaining time to ensure we prepare well and put up a great performance at the tournament.”
Tura Magic vice-captain Lydiana Nanamus added: “It is not going to be easy; we are going to have to work hard. We do respect our opponents, but we are also bringing a lot to the table. We will give them a run for their money.
“We have great quality and a great passion for the game, so I think we are good to go. We have not seen our opponents play, but we must just bring our own strengths into the games.
“We now have something more to play for, not only to win the league in our country, but also to qualify for the Champions League. It is a great thing for the whole African continent.”
But to get to Cairo, Tura Magic will have to find a way of trumping serial winners Black Rhinos Queens, who have won their domestic league every year since it started in 2014.
It is an intimidating record that the Zimbabwean club hope will unsettle the competition in Durban.
“Black Rhinos is a military team which draws its impetus from the mother body which doesn’t fear an anticipated task. We haven’t been training as a team for a long period and we last played competitive matches last year, if not in 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are going to Durban to win and proceed to Cairo… our athletes are doing their best to adjust and we are raring to go,” Black Rhinos Queens secretary-general Adnico Thilli said.
The Sports Recreation Commission two weeks ago gave the Queens permission to resume train in preparation for the Champions League regional qualifiers, though most other sports teams remained barred from doing so in Zimbabwe due to pandemic control protocols.
“We are not taking for granted the permission to resume training that was given to us by the SRC a few weeks ago. We are using every minute wisely. Our girls have for a long time been training individually and getting online guidance from the coaches, but it can never be the same as training as a team.
“Now that we have the permission to train and prepare, everyone in the team is doing their best, from players to executives, because our only expectation is to lift the Zimbabwean flag very high and make history by qualifying for the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League,” Thilli added.
While Tura Magic and Black Rhinos Queens may have big dreams, they will be especially wary of South Africa’ Mamelodi Sundowns.
The South African side has the advantage of having been active much longer than other participating clubs because restrictions on contact sports in that country were eased last year.
Reporting by Tedious Manyepo & Sinikiwe Marodza in Harare