Jerusha Ramasawmy scored a brace as hosts Mauritius started their 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship campaign with a resounding 5-1 victory over fellow islanders Comoros at the St. François Xavier Stadium on Friday.
The win will boost the confidence of the home side, who top their Group A after Uganda and Zambia played to a 1-1 draw in the other match in the pool. There was a frantic start to the clash with three goals in the opening 14 minutes as both sides looked nervous at the back.
Eva Pierrot opened the scoring for the hosts with a neat finish into the bottom corner of the net, but Comoros levelled shortly afterwards as Moinahedji Ali turned the ball home.
Four minutes later and the home side led again as Ramasawmy showed her lethal touch in front of goal to restore the advantage.
Ramasawmy missed with a good chance and Pierrot fired over the bar before the former finally did add a third for the home team with another well-taken strike.
Mauritius ended with a flourish as they scored two more in the final minutes, skipper Marie Verloppe getting her name on the scoresheet, along with Marie Quirin adding the fifth.
Zambia scored a superb late equaliser to rescue a point from East African side Uganda, who were made to pay for some profligacy in front of goal in their 1-1 draw in the other game in Group A.
Both sides had openings in a goalless first 45 minutes, but it was Uganda who took the lead on the hour-mark following a foul in the box on Kevin Nakacwa.
Uganda skipper Juliet Nalukenge stepped up and showed excellent composure to score from the penalty.
Zambia poured forward in search of an equaliser, which finally came on 84 minutes as Shelly Masumo rifled home an excellent shot that left Uganda goalkeeper Daphine Nyayenga with no chance.
One of the pre-tournament favourites South Africa get their Group B campaign under way on Saturday when they clash with Seychelles at the St. François Xavier Stadium (15h30 kick-off; 13h30 GMT).
South Africa qualified for the 2019 FIAF Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, but will have an entirely new group of players for coach Simphiwe Dludlu to work with.
Some of them, such as midfielder Jessica Wade, represented their country at the recent COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship as well, and so have had a taste of higher level international action.
The Seychelles are new to football in this age-group and you sense they will learn a lot from playing such high-quality opposition.
The earlier game in Group B sees Botswana tackle Madagascar (12h30; 10h30 GMT) at the same venue, a chance for both those sides to lay down a marker for the semi-finals with the top two teams in each pool advancing to the knockout stages.
Uganda 1 (Nalukenge 62’pen)Zambia 1 (Masumo 84)
Mauritius 5 (Pierrot 3’, Ramasawmy 14’, 65’, Verloppe 84’, Quirin 87’)Comoros 1 (M. Ali 10’)
Botswana vs Madagascar (KO 12h30, 10h30 GMT) – St. François Xavier Stadium
South Africa vs Seychelles (KO 15h30, 13h30 GMT) – St. François Xavier Stadium