Mares confident ahead of Tanzania tie


The Mares' head coach, Mohambi Saulos believes his side can kill two birds with one stone as the 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers begin.

The Mares are in Tanzania for the first leg of the qualifiers' first round to be played at the Azam Complex Stadium in Dar Es Salaam. The two teams will line up tomorrow afternoon in a 4pm kick-off.

Saulos' girls have twin duties as they are involved in both the Olympic and the 2024 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifiers and are through to the final round of the continental competition's qualifiers. "One would say the Olympic qualifiers are part and parcel of our preparations for WAFCON qualifiers. Our target is to win our game against Kenya and qualify.

It will give us confidence in the Olympic qualifiers and maybe we could reach the Olympic Games finals," Saulos said from Tanzania on Wednesday. The coach further said the team departed South Africa later than scheduled at 11pm on Monday but had a seamless trip to the East African country. The team had a recovery session on Tuesday but had their training disrupted on Wednesday. "Today (Tuesday) we started training but we were interrupted by the rain during the warm-up. The rain affects us both psychologically and physically; let me just say it affects all the aspects of the game. However, we will try to adjust to the situation," Saulos said.

The Mares will aim to avoid a defeat as they start the series away from home. Saulos anticipates an onslaught from kick-off by the home side. The Mares would counter that with a very defensive set-up and rely on counterattacks to try to snatch an away win. "Even if tomorrow (Wednesday) the rain does not stop, our training will be light and at least the instructions should be very clear about what we expect from the players. They should know they are playing a very psychological game and we know that they are going to attack.

They play fast ball and they are very quick in transition, so we are going to stop them in our deep third and try to catch them on the counter attacks and there we can be effective. So if we can find a goal, one or two then we know that we can manage the game and maybe get away with a win, that is our expectation," Saulos said. The Mares welcomed the South African-based Sedilame Bosija and Refilwe Tholakele into the team after the duo missed the COSAFA Women's Championship held recently. The Mares are ranked two places above their opponents in the world rankings. The two teams have met twice, with Tanzania winning once while the other game ended in a goalless draw. The second leg will be played on Tuesday at the Lobatse Sports Complex.

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