Mauritius return to the COSAFA Women’s Championship this year and have big ambitions under coach Kofi Kawata for the regional showpiece event that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 31-August 11.
The Indian Ocean islanders, who missed last year’s competition at the same venue, have been drawn in Group B along with Zambia, Namibia and Botswana.
Kawata, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was recently installed as coach of Lady Club M, having previously worked in the Mauritius Super League with ASPL 2000.
“It’s a big challenge but it’s exciting at the same time,” he told Express Mauritius, saying he has engineered a complete overhaul of the squad as the team looks to build for future challenges.
“We will work with confidence. We are not put under pressure and we will work with an eye on the future. We’ve started all over again and the girls know it’s not going to be easy.”
Kawata, who is also coach of the women’s Under-17 team that will compete at the COSAFA Under-17 Championships in Mauritius in September, will be looking to improve on Mauritius’ last appearance at the senior championship.
They were on debut at the tournament that year and proved a tough outing where many lessons were no doubt learned.
After an opening 3-0 loss to Eswatini, they were humbled 11-0 by East Africa guest nation Kenya and then lost 3-0 to Mozambique. It was a steep learning curve for the side, but one they will hope to use as motivation to do better in this year’s tournament after they skipped the 2018 edition.
Women’s football in Mauritius had been slow to take hold, with the country only playing their first international in 2012, a 3-0 loss to Reunion. The defeat to Kenya remains their biggest to date.
They will open their 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship campaign against Zambia at the Wolfson Stadium on August 1 (kick-off 12h45), before a clash with Botswana two days later at the same time and venue.
Their final Group B match will be played at the Gelvandale Stadium on August 6 (15h30).
Only the top team in each pool advances to the semifinals, along with the best-placed runner-up.