11/27/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/27/2019 10:38
MAPUTO (Mozambique) - Reigning champions Ferroviario de Maputo will be eyeing a second straight title when the FIBA Africa Women's Champions Cup 2019 gets underway from December 6-15 at the Cairo Indoor Stadium in the Egyptian capital.
With a star-studded side, the Mozambican giants come into this competition with high hopes of defending the continental trophy away from home, away from their supporters and in front of a very passionate Egyptian crowd.
Veteran guard Anabela Cossa is excited about the possibility of achieving this and with renewed energy, she and her teammates are committed to this cause.
'IT IS ALWAYS A GREAT PLEASURE TO COME INTO A TOURNAMENT AS THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS AND AS ALL THE OTHER TEAMS, WE SHALL BE FOCUSED ON WINNING THE TITLE AND AT THE SAME TIME CAUTIOUS OF OUR OPPONENTS.'- Cossa
Ferroviario will arrive in Cairo with their confidence levels at an all-time high after six of their players earlier this month inspired Mozambique to the final round of qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to take place in February 2020.
Cossa, Ingvild Macauro, Odelia Mafanela, Delma Zita, Cecilia Henriques and Eleuteria Lhavanguane played a crucial role as Mozambique stunned favorites Senegal at the semifinal stage to book one of two slots available for the African continent.
Zita helped Mozambique beat Senegal
According to Cossa, this monumental achievement has left the mood in camp at a level never seen before and has defined their preparations thus far.
She told FIBA.basketball in an exclusive interview that, 'This has given us a lot more confidence when playing at the highest level. Our team has half of the players on the national team, this is very motivating and makes the players very competitive. However, as a team, we have been training hard to achieve our goals. We will go to Egypt with the highest focus.'
'It is always a great pleasure to come into the tournament as the defending champions and as all the other teams, we shall be focused on winning the title, and at the same time be cautious of our opponents.'
Previous editions have had all teams focusing on the five-time record winners InterClube from Angola but for the first time, all teams will be looking out for Ferroviario and a chance to dethrone them.
Ferroviario are the favorites this year
Cossa and her teammates are aware of this threat and have vowed to do away with any form of complacency that might undermine their main goal.
'It puts pressure on us because we have to do our best to retain the title especially because we are playing away from home and without our fans. Our goal as a team is first to have a good tournament so that we can retain the title.'
'InterClube is always the team to beat because of their achievements in the past but we approach every game in the same way as if it was the last game of the competition because to reach the final, we have to play against all the teams in front of us. I think the strategy will not change because we always have respect for all our opponents.'
Cossa was the Best Three-point Shooter last year
Renowned as the three-point assassin, Cossa will be hoping to put up a performance good enough to inspire her side to retain the title and become only the second Mozambican side to defend the African title after Desportivo de Maputo won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008.
Maxaquene was the first Mozambican team to win the African title in 1991 at home in Maputo before Academica de Maputo clinched it a decade later in Abidjan.
Liga Muculmana joined the party in 2012 in Abidjan before Ferroviario brought tears of joy to the Mozambican basketball fraternity last year.
Angola's InterClube remains the most decorated team on the continent with five titles won in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016.