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In a riveting start to the 2024 Africa Futsal Cup of Nations qualifiers, the preliminary round first-leg matches unfolded with intense action and surprises across the continent.
Mozambique Triumphs Over Zambia in a Nail-Biter
On Saturday, Mozambique secured a 3-2 victory against Zambia at the UEM Pavilion, positioning themselves favourably for the upcoming second leg in Lusaka on February 10. Valdo, Reginaldo Taimo, and Agostinho were the architects of Mozambique’s success, providing the national team with a crucial advantage in their quest to qualify for the CAN in Morocco next April. However, Zambia have enjoyed success abroad in preparation matches for the competition and will be confident at home that they can turn this result around.
(Main picture source: Premier Futsal League in Zambia)
Namibia Makes Historic Debut Amidst Challenges
Namibia’s national men’s futsal team made history by playing its first international match against Tanzania. Despite facing a 2-5 defeat in the first leg, Namibia remains hopeful for a turnaround in the return leg in Dar es Salaam on February 9. Speaking to Futsal Focus after the match, Coach Ryan Jago expressed optimism, highlighting the team’s second-half resurgence and the unforgettable experience amidst an electric atmosphere:
“I’m currently reviewing the match highlights, we started slowly, finding ourselves 3-0 down before regaining momentum. Regrettably, we made a few wrong decisions, including conceding three penalties. However, the second half showcased a significant improvement. We managed to predict their moves, and created several opportunities, but unfortunately, a combination of bad misses and hitting the crossbar and post prevented us from capitalising fully.
While we are still very much in the game, it’s crucial that we address aspects of our strategy that were not effectively executed today despite our prior preparation. The atmosphere during the match was nothing short of surreal; despite the presence of 1,000 spectators, it sounded more like a crowd of 20,000. The energy, intensified by a police escort, fervent fan chants, and omnipresent cameras before the game, was an experience like no other.
I am confident that we can reverse the outcome by implementing the strategies we’ve diligently worked on, I believe in our ability to turn the tide. Regardless of the final score, the sheer intensity of the atmosphere, especially when we scored, the fan’s reaction was amazing, this was a truly unbelievable experience that will stay with me forever”
Highlight below: Namibia scores a free-kick against Tanzania in the futsal AFCON 2024 qualifier.
Libya and Algeria Battle to a Stalemate
The Misrata Sports Hall witnessed a thrilling clash between Libya and Algeria in the qualifiers. The first leg ended in a dramatic 4-4 draw, setting the stage for an intense encounter in Algeria. With both teams eyeing a victory, the upcoming match promises to be a fierce battle for a spot in the Africa Futsal Cup of Nations.
Algeria has improved in the last year showcasing an outstanding performance in the Arab Futsal Cup, advancing to the semi-finals. The national team secured the second position in Group A, alongside group winners Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Tajikistan. Notably, Algeria delivered an impressive victory in the quarter-finals, overcoming formidable opponents with a 2-0 win against Iraq. Despite their commendable journey, Algeria faced a closely contested match in the semi-finals, ultimately losing to Kuwait, 3-2. Buoyed by their stellar performance in the Arab Futsal Cup, and staying in this match against Libya, Algeria will welcome their rivals with belief and feel they have a home advantage.
Ivory Coast Dominates Ghana in Accra Showdown
In a commanding performance, Ivory Coast emerged victorious against Ghana in the qualifiers in Accra. The 2024 Africa Futsal Cup of Nations clash took place at the sports hall of the University of Cape Coast, with Ivory Coast securing a substantial lead ahead of the return encounter. The Ivorians displayed their talent on the futsal court, signaling their readiness for the prestigious tournament in Morocco.
Mauritania Advances as Cameroon Faces Disqualification
Mauritania secured a spot in the final tournament following Cameroon’s disqualification. CAF imposed sanctions on Cameroon due to their withdrawal from the last edition’s qualifiers, allowing Mauritania to progress uncontested.
As the preliminary round sets the stage for the Africa Futsal Cup of Nations, fans eagerly await the second-leg showdowns and anticipate the emergence of teams that will compete for glory in Morocco this April. The futsal fever is growing across the continent, promising an exhilarating journey to determine the ultimate champions of African futsal.
The author of the article
Stephen McGettigan was born in the Republic of Ireland but grew up in Belfast. He is the founder of Futsal Focus, a Football Industries MBA graduate from the University of Liverpool Management School, and he has worked in the Football and Futsal industries for 15 years.
Futsal Focus is a supporter of Dáithí Mac Gabhann and his family’s campaign to raise awareness of Organ Donation. We encourage our readers to learn more about Organ Donation: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/
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