The eighth stage of the Welcome Tour proved to be an emotional moment for Steffi Jones. The OC president spent Thursday 3 March 2011 in Equatorial Guinea, who have qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ for the first time. Jones was given star treatment in the Hotel Sofitel in the country’s capital Malabo, with the hour-long Welcome event even broadcast live by some of the local media.
“The enthusiasm that the people of Equatorial Guinea are showing for the Women’s World Cup is quite simply unbelievable,” said Jones. “I have the feeling that the tournament is also increasing people’s awareness of Germany. The Women’s World Cup is the event of the year in our country.”
The OC president landed on Wednesday evening at Malabo airport, where she was received by Bonifacio Manga Obiang, who is president of the country’s national association, as well as the women’s Olympic football team and a number of media representatives.
Two hundred guests attended the event, including Manga Obiang, the coaches of the Equatorial Guinea women’s and men’s teams Jean-Paul Mpila and Henri Michel, and a large delegation from the Malabo diplomatic corps. With the exception of star striker Genoveva Anonma, who plays for FF USV Jena in the German women’s Bundesliga, the entire women’s squad were also present and are thoroughly looking forward to Germany 2011.
Equatorial Guinea has a population of barely 700,000, making it the smallest country ever to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup. Like Colombia, they will be making their debut at the tournament this summer.
“Teams like Equatorial Guinea are unpredictable and will provide the tournament with some real excitement. Past World Cups have often proved that the new teams are the ones who can create a surprise or two,” the OC president said. “Our team has yet to play an international outside of Africa,” cautioned Manga Obiang, “but we should fear absolutely nobody. We have a talented squad who have earned the right to seize this opportunity. They certainly won’t let our country down.”
The OC president headed back to Germany a mere three hours after the event in Malabo, with the next stage of the Welcome Tour taking her to Mexico on Tuesday 9 March 2011.