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COSAFA U-17 ‘It is coming home’ – Ayub Khalifah promises victory over South Africa

The national U17 girls celebrating one of their 12 goals against Botswana as they qualified for the finals of the COSAFA U17 Girls Championship / COSAFA Images

Uganda U-17 women side have been pragmatic about their chances of winning the inaugural Council of South African Football Associations (COSAFA), U-17 women championship.

Even before a ball was kicked, they believed they had a huge shot at ultimate victory. And all through the tournament they have not been shy of stating their desire to be crowned champion.

Skipper Juliet Nalukenge made the statement that they target nothing short of victory as they departed the country for Mauritius. Her comments were deemed to be a bit overly ambitious, as the team was largely untested before against continental opposition.

The last time the U-17 team were involved in an international competition, was six years ago; September 2013 during the U-17 Airtel Rising Stars African Championship, in Nigeria, where Uganda emerged 4th out of 12 other African countries.

The only member of the team in Mauritius is assistant coach, Hadijah Namuyanja. Many of the players were yet to complete their primary school level.

But after having a fantastic and explosive performances in the run up to the finals, Uganda have the final hurdle against South Africa if they are to take the top of the podium.

Despite South Africa carrying the favorites tag in the final, they will have their title credentials tested by guests Uganda. And Uganda head coach Ayub Khalifah is confident that after the final whistle his side will be the cup winners for the year 2019.

“We have worked on all aspects of the game, the players are in moods just waiting for the final game of the tournament,” Ayub told the media ahead of the match

“I just promise all Ugandans that however much we are playing the (COSAFA) region giants who seem to be at home, we will be able to win the trophy and we will bring it home.” He added.

Uganda humiliated Botswana 12-0, while South Africa struggled to beat Zambia 2-1 to reach the tournament’s first ever finals.

Both teams are yet to suffer defeat, with Uganda playing to a 1-1 draw in their opening game against Zambia, while South Africa have won all their games to date.

Uganda is the high scoring team with 44 goals while South Africa come second with 38 goals in four matches.

Nalukenge is the only player to score in all games so far, and leads the scoring charts with 17 goals, with partner Fauzia Najjemba chipping in with 12 goals and twice being voted player of the match. The pair will lead Uganda’s charge upfront.

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