by Philip Richards
“Serengeti Girls” under 17 national team record historic victory
Tanzania’s under-17 women’s national football team, known as the “Serengeti Girls”, shocked the football World in October when they beat France 2-1 at the U17 World Cup finals in India. The match was played at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao, Goa.
Serengeti Girls’ goals were scored by Diana Mnally in the 16th minute and Christer Bahera who scored second from the spot in 56th minute.
Marking the first appearance by any team representing Tanzania at a FIFA tournament, Serengeti Girls lost their opening match 4-0 to Japan. Then followed their victory over France and a 1-1 draw with Canada in the final group game. This was enough to see them qualify for the quarter-finals, where they were overpowered 3-0 by a strong Colombia side, with two Tanzanian players shown red cards during the game.
The players received a heroic reception when they landed back in Tanzania after the tournament.
Their coach Bakari Shime believes their success in India could be a turning point in a country where the female game is yet to be widely accepted. “Reaching the quarter-finals is a huge achievement in our history and in our country,” he told BBC Sport. “We hope that this tournament will increase support in Tanzania.”
In 2021, Tanzania’s first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan drew criticism after saying the country’s female footballers had “flat chests” and were unattractive for marriage.