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Rwandan referee Salima Rhadia Mukansanga to make history at Nations Cup

Rwandan-born referee Salima Rhadia Mukansanga will make history when she officiates the group stage game between Zimbabwe and Guinea at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to referee a match at men’s continental soccer tournament.

First from the bottom of the Group ‘B’ as they have remained winless in their two previous matches, The Warriors of Zimbabwe will lock horns with the Syli Nationale of Guinea who are top of Group ‘B’ with four points following their 1-0 victory over Malawi in the opener and a draw against Senegal in their second outing on Friday.

Mukansanga, 35, will take charge of the game as a central referee and part of a quartet selected as match officials. The other women match officials are assistant referees Cameroonian, Carine Atemzabong and Fatiha Jermoumi and Bouchra Karboubi from Morocco.

It will also be the first time ever that an all-women team will officiate a match at the continent’s premier soccer tournament since the competition was established some 65 years ago.

Mukansanga had earlier made history becoming first woman to officiate an AFCON game when she was the fourth official during Guinea’s 1-0 victory over Malawi in a Group ‘B’ opener on Monday January 10 at the Bafoussam Omnisport stadium in Kouekong.

Eddy Maillet, CAF’s Head of Referees who made the final decision on which officials will take part in the tournament said the new development is result of continental soccer body’s clear commitment and investment to improve and advance the standard of refereeing in Africa.

“We are super proud of Salima because she has had to work exceptionally hard to be where she is today,” Eddy Maillet is quoted in a statement on CAF’ website.

“We know that for a woman, she has had to overcome serious obstacles to reach this level and she deserves a lot of credit. This moment is not just for Salima but for every young girl in Africa who has passion for football and who sees herself as a referee in the future,” Eddy Maillet said further in the statement