Micheal fulfills dream with Egypt’s Cup tilt

NATIONAL TEAM: Maniso Micheal will play for Egypt at the Africa Women's Cup of Nations from this weekend. Picture: ADAM McLEAN
NATIONAL TEAM: Maniso Micheal will play for Egypt at the Africa Women's Cup of Nations from this weekend. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

When the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations kicks off this weekend, Maniso Micheal will be there trying to make her mark.

The Austinmer resident travelled to Cameroon earlier this week to play for Egypt at the biennial football championships.

Micheal qualified to play for the African nation through her father Kamel.

She was looking forward to the opportunity.

“It's great to represent the country on his behalf and that side of the family,” Micheal said.

"It's always been a dream of mine so I'm really grateful to get the opportunity.”

Micheal holds dual citizenship for Austalia and Egypt.

The 25-year-old, who already has three caps, was selected to play at the tournament after travelling back and forth between the two nations for training camps.

"I had my main trial in August and I've been back three times now and been lucky enough to get a few International caps under my belt,” Micheal, who is a former Illawarra Stingray, said.

"I didn't play through the qualifiers.

“I've played in friendlies against Zambia, Kenya and South Africa who've recently come out of the Olympics so that was a good challenge.”

While the team is made up predominately of players who reside in Egypt, there are several other players in the squad from various places around the world.

In a short preparation, Micheal says the squad has bonded together nicely ahead of the tournament.

"There's a big language and cultural barrier but we come together pretty well,” she said.

“There's a few Egyptian-American and Egyptian-Canadian girls in the team so it's a pretty diverse mix.”

The 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations is the Egyptian national team’s first for 18 years.

They have failed to officially qualify since 1998, however didn’t enter the tournament on several occasions between now and then.

At their last attempt Egypt didn’t taste victory, conceding 14 goals and scoring two before exiting in the Group Stage.

This time around they were setting the bar higher.

"You always try and aim high and we're aiming to play some really good football over there and hopefully make it past the Group stage,” Micheal said.

Egypt begin their campaign on November 19 against Cameroon.

"They're obviously the hosts and will want to play well so we're going to need to step it up straight away,” Micheal said.

Cameroon are the 47th ranked national team in women’s football and the third highest at the tournament behind Nigeria (37th) and Ghana (46th)

Egypt then meet Zimbabwe in their second group encounter on November 22 before playing South Africa in their third match on November 25.

Heading into the Cup of Nations, the Egyptian team are ranked 80th in the world which leaves them ninth among all competing African nations.