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August 2022
12/08/2022
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Who takes home the 2022 U18 Women's African Championship title? Egypt or Mali?

 

ANTSIRABE (Madagascar) - Giants Egypt and Mali will contest the grand finale of the of the FIBA U18 Women's African Championship on Saturday at the Gymnase Couvert D'Antsirabe.

Mali have the greater history in the competition with seven titles, while Egypt have two and both countries have contested three finals  (2020, 2016 and 2014) against each other. In the three finals, which coincidentally took place in Cairo, the West Africans have out-duelled the Egyptians two to one, with the North Africans clinching the most recent final. 

Mali and Egypt, who both secured qualification for the 2023 FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup in Spain, are again the best teams in this year's continental age group tournament and their routes to the final are similar.  From the start of the competition, both teams have beaten their opposition by more than 20 points. 

Forward Maimouna Haidara, has been a force for Mali, she has scored a double double in almost every game she has played. The Spain-based player proven to be unstoppable and has been one of the statistical leaders of the tournament.

Mali will depend on her for points in the final, she will not shoulder the scoring load as forwards Sira Thienou and Kamite Dabou have proven to be capable scorers as well for the 2018 champions.

Mali coach Sori Diakite believes the rest of the team is good and that the will not solely rely on Haidara.

"Maimouna is not the only player. I have 12 other players who are capable, so watch the game and you will see we that we don't depend on a single player," said Diakite after his team's win over Angola on Thursday.

Egypt have the two Janas, Elalfy and Sallman. Along with Haidara, Elalfy is also a contender for the tournament MVP. An amazing second half against Angola showed that she is a player that can rise from adversity.

In a  final Group B battle against Angola on  Monday, Elalfy had three fouls in the first quarter and had to sit out the game, In third and fourth quarter she maintained her discipline and score 11 points in the fourth to help her team to victory. It will be this character Egypt will need to win a third trophy.

Sallman, on the other hand, is a quiet grinder, notched double-doubles regularly. It is not surprising that she is among the top three players in the competition. She is a very skilled player at the post, who is blessed with good footwork that allows her to score easily.

The Shooting Club Dokki player is also a good rebounder of the ball, so in her Egypt also have a gem of a player that help them retain their trophy,

Coach Mostafa Hadhood, spoke from the same vein as Diakite about the composition of his team and its role players.

"I have 12 talented players. My team is not only made of Jana Elalfy and Jana Sallman. They are both great players, but they play within a system. They help the team with rebounding and scoring," said Hadhood after the win over Madagascar on Thursday.

Two teams that have were favourites before the start of the tournament and have been perfect so far, but on Saturday there can only been one winner.

FIBA