Mpeh Bissong scored a hat-trick as Cameroon showed their potential with an 8-1 victory over Mozambique in their Group B opener on day two of the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday.
The Central African side are the highest ranked team in the competition and showed all their quality in the rout, which will come as a timely reminder to their rivals that they are in South Africa to lift the trophy.
Raissa Mbappe got the scoring under way early and later added a second for her brace, but Bissong stole the show with a quality treble that showed her clinical finishing in front of goal.
It was the first hat-trick of the COSAFA Women’s Championship and also the biggest win of the tournament so far as Cameroon also netted through Abena Ninon, Charlene Meyong and Agnes Nkada.
“It was a good match for us,” Cameroon coach Joseph Ndoko said, before adding praise for Mozambique despite the scoreline. “I was very impressed with them, it shows that many other African countries are improving.
“We showed good mental strength, which we will need when we go to the African Women’s Championship [in November]. We told our players in the pre-match meeting we wanted them to send a strong message about our ability for the remaining matches, even though we take them step-by-step.”
Cameroon’s fellow African Women’s Championship qualifiers Zambia cruised to a 2-0 victory over Lesotho in the other match in Group B.
A first half goal from skipper Misozi Zulu sent them on their way, before Barbra Banda added a second to seal the points for the Zambians.
The pivotal game in this pool will be played on Saturday when Cameroon and Zambia clash.
Zimbabwe claimed an opening victory in Group C thanks to a first half goal from Marjory Nyaumwe in a 1-0 success over Namibia.
It was a hard-fought clash in which both sides had opportunities to score after that, with the best falling to Zimbabwe’s usually prolific Rutendo Makore, who missed an excellent chance with the goal gaping.
Zimbabwe sit second in Group C behind East African guest nation Uganda, who claimed a thrilling 4-3 victory over Swaziland in their opener on Wednesday.
“We managed to maintain our defensive structure and organisation,” Zimbabwe coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda said. “It was tough luck to Namibia, they played a great game.
“In tournaments the most important thing is to get points and for the players to get confidence, so it is great to have started with a win. We did not play to our best, but it’s great we managed to get the points. I am sure we will be better in the second match.”
There will be a potential Group A decider when the action resumes on Friday as hosts South Africa take on Botswana at 15h30 (13h30 GMT).
Both sides won their opening games on Wednesday and will be favourites to top the pool and advance automatically to the semifinals.
South Africa coach Desiree Ellis feels her side will be improved from their opening 2-1 win over Mozambique and may have her overseas-based trio of Janine van Wyk, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana in action after they arrived in camp on Wednesday.
“The game against Botswana is not going to be easy. We have played them often enough and they know as much about us as we know of them,” Ellis said.
“We will look to improve all-round. Even if we think the defence played well, there is always room for improvement. We are looking at the whole team improving their performance and getting a lot more shots on target. Goals win games.
“We have to be at our best to get the result. There are no small teams [in the competition], whether you know the team or don’t, you have to prepare well.
“You underestimate an opponent at your own peril and we are just happy we got the first game out of the way because it is always difficult. We will work from here.”
Madagascar will play Malawi in the early kick-off (10h00 local time, 08h00 GMT) as those two sides look to stay in contention for the second round.
It is a must-win game for both sides, with a draw favouring neither and a loss almost certainly sending the vanquished home after the first round.
Zimbabwe will be back in action when they take on Eswatini in the lunch-time kick-off at 13h00 (11h00 GMT), with victory giving them a chance to put the other sides in Group C under pressure.
All the games will be played at the Wolfson Stadium and entrance for fans is FREE.
All Wolfson Stadium
Zimbabwe 1 (Marjory Nyaumwe) Namibia 0
Cameroon 8 (Raissa Mbappe 2, Mpeh Bissong 3, Abena Ninon, Charlene Meyong, Agnes Nkada) Mozambique 1 (Cidalia Cuta)
Zambia 2 (Misozi Zulu, Barbra Banda) Lesotho 0
All Wolfson Stadium
10h00 (08h00 GMT) – Madagascar vs Malawi
13h00 (11h00 GMT) – Zimbabwe vs Eswatini
15h30 (13h30 GMT) – Botswana vs South Africa
GROUP A P W D L GF GA PTS
Botswana 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
South Africa 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Madagascar 1 0 0 1 1 2 0
Malawi 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
GROUP B P W D L GF GA PTS
Cameroon 1 1 0 0 8 1 3
Zambia 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Lesotho 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Mozambique 1 0 0 1 1 8 0
GROUP C P W D L GF GA PTS
Uganda 1 1 0 0 4 3 3
Zimbabwe 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Namibia 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Eswatini 1 0 0 1 3 4 0
Matches Played: 6
Goals scored: 24
Biggest victory: Cameroon 8 Mozambique 1 (Group B, September 13)
Most goals in a game: 9 – Cameroon 8 Mozambique 1 (Group B, September 13)
3 goals – Mpeh Bissong (Cameroon)
2 – Raissa Mbappe (Cameroon), Hasifah Nassuna (Uganda)
1 – Barbra Banda (Zambia),Cidalia Cuta (Mozambique), Lesego Keleboge (Botswana), Charlene Meyong (Cameroon), Tenanile Mgcamphalala (Eswatini), Resty Nanziri (Uganda), Celiwe Nkambule (Eswatini), Abena Ninon (Cameroon), Agnes Nkada (Cameroon), Alupo Norah (Uganda), Marjory Nyaumwe (Zimbabwe), Lesego Radiakanyo (Botswana), Sarah Rasoanandrasana (Madagascar), Cebile Shongwe (Eswatini), Nothando Vilakazi (South Africa),Khanya Xesi (South Africa), Misozi Zulu (Zambia).