Wednesday , April 17 2024

CAF African Schools Football Championship – The CECAFA/UNAF finalists!

The final of the CAF African Schools Football Championship would be held from April 5-8 at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi of Durban in South Africa.

CECAFA TEAM PROFILES | COUNCIL FOR EAST AND CENTRAL AFRICA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONS

UNAF TEAM PROFILES | UNION OF NORTH AFRICAN FOOTBALL

FOUNTAIN GATE SECONDARY SCHOOL
Dodoma, Tanzania

Fountain Gate Secondary School cruised to the title in the girls’ competition at the CECAFA zonal finals that were played in February. The Tanzanian side defeatedAwaro Senior Secondary from Ethiopia 3-0 in the final, using the benefit of home ground advantage to book their place at the continental event.

Fountain Gate had a clean sweep of the individual awards too, underlining their status as the top team, as Zainabu Karuka was named Best Player at the zonal competition, Allic Nechemia took home the Golden Glove and Winifrida Gerald was the top scorer.

It was a dominant performance they will hope to replicate on a continental platform in Durban. The school has 387 students, of which around 60% are girls, so not a massive pool of players to select from compared to some of their rivals.

But women’s football in Tanzania has been strong for a number of years and the country is well known for producing young talent. The team is coached by Aristides Ngowi, who has a Bachelor Degree of Arts with Education, but is also a CAF C License holder and a tactician used to success in recent times.

He won the coveted East African Chipukizi Cup for three years in a row between 2020-2022 with an Under-15 girls’ team, and also led an Under-20 side to the same title last year. He was in charge when

Fountain Gate won both their national CAF African Schools Football Championship qualifiers and the CECAFA zonal competition that booked their place in the continental final.

“It has been good to compete in the CAF African Schools Football Championship, we are learning new things about modern football and getting experience in international games, for both the coaches and players,” Ngowi said. “We have had some quality time training and the girls are ready for the continental competition to start in Durban. We cannot wait.”

Ngowi added that competing in the CAF African Schools Football Championship has definitely raised the interest level among girls at the school to take up the sport.

“It has increased the number of players we have at training. Girls have come along who never had interest in football before.”

ROYAL GIANT HIGH SCHOOL
Mityana, Uganda

Royal Giant High School have lived up to their name in the world of football in recent times with consistent success in the CAF African Schools Football Championship zonal qualifier in Tanzania and their own national competitions.
They have been to the national finals of their domestic competition for the last four years and have built a culture of success, which they have now transferred to the international stage.

They won their place at the CAF African Schools Football Championship Final in Durban by defeating Geda Roble Secondary School from Ethiopia 4-2 on penalties after the teams finished goalless in the zonal decider. It was a tough end to a gruelling competition, but that will have battle-hardened the side for what is to come.

The Under-15 team is coached by Frank Mulindwa, who holds a CAF C License and has previously coached at top schools such as Bujuuko High School and King Solomon High School before joining Royal Giant.

He is delighted his players have the opportunity to showcase their quality on the international stage and says the zonal qualifiers were a great learning curve for the players.

“The level of organisation and competition were very high,” Mulindwa says. “For this tournament we are really happy with the opportunity given to the young boys to showcase their talents on not only national level, but also on the continental stage.

“We, as a team, also learnt much in the off-pitch workshops during the zonal qualifiers.” Mulindwa says preparations are going well for the CAF African Schools Football Championship Final in Durban.

“The team is ready for the games due to the well-organised preparations done by the school, hand-in-hand with our home association, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations.”

Mulindwa is confident his team can shine in the continental phase and that they will put on a good show in Durban.

“As a team we have gained experience, especially on how to handle the teams playing on a continental level,” he says. “The tournament has so far laid a platform for our players in terms of different opportunities in football.”

UNAF TEAM PROFILES

OMAR BEN AL KHATTAB SCHOOL
Rabat, Morocco

Omar Ben Al Khattab School will be among the favourites for theCAF African Schools Football Championship Finals as they have a number of students with senior international experience in the Morocco Under-17 side.

As many as eight of players from the school represented the north African nation at the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup in India last year, where the team met the likes of powerhouses United States and Brazil.

While those players are no longer in the correct age-group for the CAF African Schools Football Championship, it speaks volumes for the calibre of player being brought through at the school, and clearly the years below are equally as successful.

That is because the school came through the UNAF zonal qualifiers with a 100% record, winning all four games to seal their place in the continental finals.

Sara Dofry claimed the Best Player award in the zonal competition, while Ahlam Boukhorb was Best Goalkeeper. The team is coached by Younès Rabii, who holds a CAF B License and is also in charge of the Morocco Under-17 side.

“The qualification for the CAF African Schools Football Championship Final did not come easy because our team faced very good teams from Egypt, Algeria Tunisia and Libya (in the zonal qualifiers),” Rabii said. “But the organisation was good and the tournament had a good technical level.

“Preparations for the finals in Durban have gone very well, especially with our participation a few weeks ago at the Moroccan national schools championship.”

A number of players from the school featured for the Morocco team that played at the African Schools Cup, a pilot event held in Kinshasa in February last year. Morocco walked away with the top prize after they beat South Africa in the final.

“Our players are eager to participate in in Durban, especially after their experience last year in Kinshasa, they want to create other relationships with their African friends and know other cultures,” Rabii added.

ECOLE HEDI AYADI
Sfax, Tunisia

A school rich in history that shone at the zonal qualifiers in UNAF and will have high hopes of going all the way on the continental stage, showcasing the rich talent from Tunisia.

Ecole Hedi Ayadi will be one of the team to beat with their typical Tunisian structure and organisation to go with some players who have real flair. They managed a full haul of 12 points in the boys’ competition as they beat all-comers, which included rivals from Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Algeria. Moreover, they did this away from home in Egypt.

It was a tough set of qualifiers, but Ecole Hedi Ayadi showed their ability to battle to the end and take top honours, a mental strength that will also be needed in Durban.

They won their opening game 10-0 to set the tone for the competition, before winning their second clash against home side Ecole Sewada 5-0.

They then faced what amounted to a decisive fixture for the title as they beat Libya’s Ecole Alkaleel to ensure a full house of 12 points and the title.

They showed they not only have a potent strike-force, but also a tight defence and breaking them down will be tough for teams in the continental phase.

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