The Brave Gladiators opened their 2024 Africa Women’s Qualifiers with a hard-fought 3-2 away victory against the Gambia in the first leg of the first round on Thursday at the Ben M’Hamed El Abdi Stadium in El Jadida, Morocco.
Lovisa Mulunga, Ivonne Kooper and star striker Zenatha Coleman made sure the Brave Gladiators kicked off their qualifying quest with a victory as Mulunga opened the scoring within the first 12 minutes of the match.
Kooper made it 2-0 before two-goal heroine Fateh Kanteh scored late in the first half and midway through the second half to level matters. Turkey-based Coleman then made sure of the points late in the match to put Namibia in the driving seat going into the second leg yesterday.
Speaking to this publication from their base in Morocco, coach Paulus Shipanga said he was not satisfied with the performance, saying it was not the type of football the team plays.
“There were a lot of factors to that – one of them being the pitch, which had thick grass, while we trained on a different pitch. We also travelled one and a half hours from the team’s camping base to the stadium. I will take this win any day – even though the performance was not the best,” Shipanga said.
He said the team conceded silly goals and the communication was bad, a situation he did not understand.
Shipanga added only Lovisa has a slight knock, while the other 22 players are all fit and raring to go.
He hinted that there may be changes to the team for the second leg because they now have an idea of how The Gambia plays.
Namibia faced the same opponents at the same stadium in Morocco late yesterday, as the cash-strapped Namibian Football Association decided against playing in
South Africa to save money.
This comes at a time when Namibia will play Morocco in the Olympic Qualifiers, a situation that is likely to expose the Gladiators to the Moroccans through spying.