June 27, 2011

Group D Preview: Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea (#61)
Region: CAF
Coach: Marcelo Frigerio
How They Qualified: Finished second in CAF Qualifying.
Prior Cups:
2007: DNQ
2003: DNQ
1999: DNQ
1995: DNQ
1991: DNQ

Roster (Average Age: 24.47)
Maria RosaGKInter Continental196/0
BrunaDFReal Dona278/0
CarolinaDFEstrellas del Sur288/3
LaetitiaDFE Waiso Ipola242/0
Ana CristinaMFNone254/0
VaniaMFHyundai Steel302/0
DorineMFE Waiso Ipola2212/8
NataliaMFInter Continental2417/1
SinforosaMFE Waiso Ipola1714/6
JumariaMFInter Continental3213/1
ChinasaMFRiver Angels2317/9
LucreciaMFE Waiso Ipola226/1
ChristelleMFE Waiso Ipola167/2
EmilianaFWRayo Vallecano19?/?
FatoumataFWInter Continental174/1

Recent Matches:
6/18/11LuxembourgFriendlyW 8-0
4/17/11CameroonOlympic QualifierW 2-0
4/2/11CameroonOlympic QualifierT 0-0
11/14/10NigeriaCAF ChampionshipL 2-4
11/11/10South AfricaCAF ChampionshipW 3-1
11/8/10GhanaCAF ChampionshipW 3-1
11/5/10AlgeriaCAF ChampionshipW 1-0
11/2/10CameroonCAF ChampionshipT 2-2
5/23/10NamibiaFriendlyW 5-1

Quite frankly, when speaking about Equatorial Guinea’s 2011 World Cup squad, there is more we don’t know than anything else. They will certainly be underdogs in this tournament. Controversial, well maybe, but probably not so much as after they qualified by finishing second in the CAF Championship last November, after which accusations regarding the gender of some of their players made the news, which is hopefully behind them.

They are certainly not so young as the other African qualifying team, Nigeria. They have been placed in a group with veteran squads from Brazil and Norway, as well as Australia, all of which will be hard to defeat.

They have played few matches that can be analyzed, the most recent being an 8-0 win over Luxembourg. They have played very few games against countries outside of Africa. They did win a recent two match series over Cameroon in the beginning stages of 2012 Olympic qualification.

Their performance in the CAF Championship was not overwhelming by any means, but they did earn their way through to the finals. An overtime victory over South Africa in the semifinals gave them their ticket to Germany. They then lost in the final by a 4-2 margin to Nigeria, the perennial power in African women’s soccer.

Ordinarily, one would talk about some of the top players that led the team through that tournament. The problem is that several of those players won’t be in Germany for the World Cup. One of their best players and a scorer of three goals in the CAF tournament, Salimata Simpore, wasn’t even on the preliminary roster that was released over a week ago. Nor were two other players that started all five matches in that tournament.

Now it appears that Jade Boho, a top player in the Spanish league, has been replaced on the roster by Emiliana in the 11th hour. Jade was the one player that gave Equatorial Guinea a world class goal scoring threat. She scored three times in the CAF Championships, including a key goal against South Africa in the semifinals and another against Nigeria in the finals.

So with so many players missing for Equatorial Guinea, what is left? Well, there is 22 year old midfielder/forward Genoveva Anonman who plays for Jena in the Frauen Bundesliga. She has scored double figures in goals over the past three seasons in Germany. She is a talented and physical player, who will have to carry a good part of the load for EG.

Then there is goalkeeper Miriam, who started every match in the CAF Championships. She gave up eight goals in five matches, but half of those were against Nigeria in the final, with two of those being own goals.

Defensively, Equatorial Guinea is led by veterans Carolina and Bruna. Carolina scored the other goal against Nigeria in the CAF Final, while Bruna played in all five matches in the tournament, starting four.

In the midfield is Jumaria, the oldest member of the team. She scored a goal against Cameroon in the CAF Championships. Chinasa, who plays club soccer in Nigeria, scored twice in that tournament including the game winner in a group stage match against Algeria. Another striker to watch is young Diala, just 21 years of age.

Ten of the 21 players on the roster play for two clubs in Equatorial Guinea, E Waiso Ipola and Inter Continental, so the lack of experience is somewhat made up by the familiarity of the players with each other.

This team does not boast a lot of international experience, so one doubts that they could go very far in the World Cup. Still, they are sort of the unknown in this tournament and have enough talent to pose problems for teams taking them too lightly. Anonman and Miriam are likely to be the keys for this team. Whether or not they have enough to pull off an upset remains to be seen.

Note: Some information for this article was obtained from www.fifa.com and www.cafonline.com.