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Football's new queens
Published in Ahram Online on 07 - 09 - 2021

Jordan won the 2021 Arab Women's Cup held in Cairo, beating Tunisia 1-0 in the final at the Arab Contractors Stadium on Monday night. The two teams had played to a goalless draw after 90 minutes when Egyptian referee Shahinda Al-Maghrabi added four minutes of injury time, setting up Jordan's Maisaa Gibara for the winning goal.
The two teams made it to the final after ousting their opponents Egypt and Algeria in the semi-finals. Jordan shocked Egypt 5-2, while Tunisia overpowered neighbours Algeria 4-3 on penalty kicks after a dramatic 2-2 draw.
The third edition of the Arab Women's Cup saw the participation of seven countries who competed for the title from 24 August to 6 September. The cup is a competition of the Union of Arab Football Association (UAFA).
The seven teams were divided into two groups. Group A included Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan and Lebanon while Group B comprised Jordan, Algeria and Palestine. Egypt and Tunisia topped their group while Jordan and Algeria finished ahead in Group B.
Hosts Egypt could not make it to the final as they lacked experience. "We are a young team and less experienced than the Jordanians and the North Africans. Our girls are younger in age than the other teams and we have been out of competition for almost five years," Mohamed Kamal, head coach of the Egyptian team, said.
"It's true we are disappointed, but still we are glad we reached the semis. This competition has been beneficial to us. It was a good opportunity for us to play against four tough teams and we are looking forward to developing women's football in Egypt," Kamal told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Jordanian head coach David Mashmento said he was extremely happy for his team winning the tournament for the first time. "I knew we could do it because we had played against Tunisia twice last month. They beat us but we knew how they played and learned how to beat them and this is what we did and we are all happy," Mashmento told the media.
The Jordanians received their cup from Ahmed Megahed, president of the interim committee of the Egyptian Football Association.
The inaugural edition of the Arab Women's Cup was held in Alexandria in 2006 and was won by Algeria after beating Morocco in the final. Nine years later, the second edition was held in Qatar and was won by Lebanon which beat Djibouti in the final. It took six years for the third edition to come to life.
"It's a new era for women's football in the region," said Samar Nassar, board member of the executive board of UAFA and head of the organising committee. "Thanks to the support of the UAFA President, HRH Prince Abdel-Aziz Bin Turky Al-Faisal, this edition was successfully held and would deliver positive impacts on the future of women's football in the Arab world, taking the sport to a new level of development and nurturing. Women's football will now receive the attention and care it deserves, which will therefore become an incentive to all those involved in women's football to work towards building up and planning for the future of our sport on all levels, technical, administratively and organisationally as well as in the fields of refereeing, sports medicine and training," Nassar said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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