BAHRAIN picked up a resounding 17-0 victory over Qatar yesterday in Group 'A' as the Women's Football Cup Arabia 2010 got underway at the National Stadium in Riffa.
It was a perfect start for Bahrain, under their coach Khalid Al Harban, who took a step closer towards qualifying for the semi-finals. Shaikha Al Anood Al Khalifa was the top scorer of the game with six goals.
Mona Engineer and Marwa Al Majeri contributed to this victory scoring a hat-trick each, while Shaikha Dwa bint Khalid Al Khalifa, Reem Al Hashmi, Mona Al Daisi and skipper Yasmine Fayez (one each) were also on target for the home side.
The Bahrainis took firm control of the game from start to finish and they virtually sealed the outcome at half-time with a huge 9-0 lead.
Playing earlier yesterday in the same group, Palestine kick-started their campaign defeating Syria 5-3 to share the lead with Bahrain on identical three points.
Wala'a Ghassan was the player of the match, scoring a hat-trick for Palestine in the fourth, 76th and 83rd minutes while Natalie Nabeel (5th minute) and Nadeen Hanna (34th) were also on target for the victors.
Syria's goals were scored by Mirand Daham (12th), Junya Shabo (18th) and Amna Munajad (47th).
Bahrain will next play Syria tomorrow at 8pm at Al Ahli Club in Mahooz in the top-of-the-table clash, which decides the teams qualifying for the semi-finals.
Bahrain's third and last game in the first round is scheduled for Friday against Palestine and is also set for a 8pm kick-off.
In Group 'B', tournament's number one Jordan will play along with Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.
The event is being jointly prepared and organised by the German Embassy, General Organisation for Youth and Sports as well as other relevant Bahraini sporting organisations.
It serves as a build-up to next year's Fifa Women's World Cup, to be held in Germany. The tournament's motto is 'On the road to Germany'.
The winner of the Women's Football Cup Arabia 2010 will benefit from exclusive training in Germany in the run-up to the 2011 Women's World Cup, which will be organised by the German Football Association and the German Olympic Sports Confederation.
A colourful opening ceremony took place before the Bahrain vs Qatar match, featuring a musical workshop by the German Women Jazz Orchestra.
The ceremony was attended by senior sports officials, including German Minister of State Cornelia Pieper and president of the Organising Committee of the Germany's Fifa Women's World Cup 2011 Steffi Jones.
"Passion for women's football is relatively new yet the emotional intensity of this sport can certainly keep pace with the men," said Pieper at the opening ceremony.
"The number of players within Fifa has now increased to 10 per cent and the euphoria knows no bounds. The sport really appeals to young women all over the world. This is reflected by the increasing number of women's football teams from Morocco to the UAE."
"Sport strengthens the sense of community and provides opportunities to build understanding between nations. The tournament in Bahrain, initiated by Germany, will provide unique opportunities for networking which will motivate other women and bolster the sport's further development," said Pieper.
Jones, meanwhile, visited the premises of the Bahrain Football Association and Salman bin Mohammed Sports Centre in Riffa yesterday.
Jones, who was taken on tour by BFA's Technical Affairs director Hassan Ismail, admired the available facilities of the association and the centre.
She was acknowledged with the programmes and activities of the association, being held in co-operation with the Asian Football Confederation and the World football's governing body Fifa.
On her part, Jones presented a briefing on Germany's preparations to host the upcoming World Cup, to be held from June 26 to July 17, wishing the Bahrain team to qualify for the camp in Germany.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS