The Altas Lionesses will play at the continent’s showpiece for the third time next year and the official is looking beyond the event
Kelly Lindsey has set a target of qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the first time with Morocco after securing the hosting rights for the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
The Atlas Lionesses will make their first appearance at the major women’s tournament on the continent since South Africa 2000 as the event will be held on North African soil for the first time.
The last time the Atlas Lionesses appeared at the event, they suffered three defeats in the group stage, conceding 13 goals and managed to score a goal in South Africa, where Nigeria won her second title.
On January 3, Fifa handed Africa four automatic slots to the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, meaning the four semi-finalists at 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations will qualify.
In the wake of this, two-time Women’s Champions League winner Reynald Pedros with Lyon has been recruited as Morocco women’s head coach, and Lindsey opened up on their ambitions.
“It is exciting times as coach Reynald Pedros will be focusing on the senior and U20 sides to build an elite line-up to achieve our massive goal of going to our first World Cup,” Lindsey, who is Moroccan Federation women’s football director to BBC Africa.
“This Africa Cup will be the culmination of teamwork and unity to drive the women’s game forward.
“Hosting the tournament will be a massive boost to women’s football here in Morocco. A country so passionate about football will have the best women’s football at their doorstep.
“We are very grateful to [football federation] president Fouzi Lekjaa to ensure the girls, families and fans can be personally connected to the beautiful women’s game.
“The country is starting to unite around women’s football with the start of our U15 and U17 Championships.”
In a build-up to 2022 Awcon success, Morocco had commenced international friendlies with Ghana in November 2020 and are set to face champions Nigeria in another doubleheader in February.
With 12 nations set to compete for the first time, the North Africans will aim to excel under the watch of experienced French tactician Pedros in 2022.