By Atumkeze Kwaleh, Young Reporter Cameroon
Acrra, November 18, 2018 – An inexperienced Mali team lost 2-1 to Cameroon at the opening game of the African Women’s Nations Cup in Ghana, but remains hopeful to qualify for the next round of the tournament. Mali will have to beat hosts Ghana in their next match to keep their hopes alive when they meet Algeria in their last group game.
Saturday’s group ‘A’ clash was fierce and physical with both teams creating chances at the start of the game. Fatoumata Diarra and team captain Fatoumata Doumbia came close to scoring for the eagles of Mali in the first minutes of the game. Mali kept the pressure on a more experienced and tactical Cameroon side, ripping into their defense on several occasions. Cameroon also had their chances in the game but failed to convert them into goals, ending the first half goalless.
Cameroon had control of much of the second half, but Mali’s efforts paid off at the 52nd minute when 20-year-old Aissata Traore hit the target from a swift counter-attack to put her team one goal ahead of the indomitable lionesses.
Mali’s victory was however short-lived as 20 minutes later, Cameroon’s Meffoumettou Falone responded with an equalizer at the 71st minute. Just two minutes later, Njoya Ajara scored a second goal for Cameroon that ripped the Malians of a victory in the game. Cameroon and Ghana are top of group A with three points each while Algeria and Mali will battle for their first points on the second day of play.
The Malians have blamed their loss to Cameroon on poor preparations ahead of the tournament.
“Back at home in Mali, we do not have a female league that could help us prepare enough for this tournament. We had to play with young boys from football academy and other local teams to prepare ourselves for this tournament,” said Mali’s lone goal scorer, Aissata Traore.
Despite this poor preparation, the Malians were able to put up a tactical and defensive game against their opponents Cameroon, who are currently ranked amongst the best in Africa.
This is Mali’s sixth participation at the African Women’s Cup of Nation tournament and their squad is packed with very young, less experienced home based players. Malian journalist, Awa Kamissok also said crisis in the Malian Football Association are partly to be blamed for the team’s poor preparation ahead of the competition. “The girls did not have friendly matches before this tournament,” said Ms Kamissok.
Mali will face the Black Queens of Ghana at the Accra Sports Stadium on Tuesday, November 20 for their second group game.