Mozambique select squad for 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship

Mozambique coach Felizarda Lemos has named a 20-player squad for the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship that will be played in Nelson Mandela Bay from September 28-October 9.

The selection has a number of experienced players in the mix, including midfielders Amelia Banze and Albertina Pondja, and striker Cina Manuel.

But there are also some youngsters in the mix, with defender Amida Namal and forward Neide Maconho hoping to make their mark.

Mozambique have been drawn in Group A at the tournament, and will play in the very first match when they meet Angola on Sept. 28.

They will then take on Malawi three days later, before rounding out their pool play against hosts South Africa on Oct. 4. Only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runners-up advance to the semifinals.

It will also be excellent preparation for the side in their bid to reach the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. They meet South Africa in their first round qualifier next month.

Mozambique appeared at the very first COSAFA Women’s Championship in 2002 and excelled, reaching the semifinals before they were handed an 11-1 defeat by hosts Zimbabwe in the knockout round.

They have not managed to match that feat since but can look back with pride on victories over Eswatini (2-0) and Botswana (7-1) in those inaugural championships.

They also competed in the regional showpiece finals in 2011 but managed just a single point in the pool stages.

They had mixed success in 2017, losing to East African guest nation Kenya (2-5), drawing with Eswatini (2-2) and beating Mauritius (3-0). The team beat Lesotho 2-1 at the championships in 2018, but also lost to Zambia (0-3) and Central African guest nation Cameroon (1-8) to bow out at the pool stages.

The side struggled in their last appearance in 2019, losing all three games to finish bottom of their pool. They were defeated 1-3 by Eswatini, before a 0-4 loss to Zimbabwe and a 1-3 reversal against Angola.

The team did not compete in 2020 due to challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mozambique have twice before entered the qualifiers for the African Women’s Championships but failed to reach the 2006 and 2012 continental finals.

Their first ever international was a 3-0 win over Lesotho in 1998, with their biggest victory a 9-0 defeat of Namibia in 2006.

Mozambique squad:

Goalkeepers: Eva Costa, Esperança Matsinhe

Defenders: Rosa Manqué, Lucia Mocambique, Cainara Jamal, Virginia Fernando, Amida Namal, Aurora Ngale, Leonilde Matola

Midfielders: Albertina Pondja, Deolinda Gove, Amelia Banze, Ines Chingueleze, Marlene Janeiro, Emilia Cazembe, Lonica Tsanwane

Forwards: Neide Maconho, Cina Manuel, Ermelinda Guinda, Cidalia Cuta