MOZ - Debutantes eye knock-out stage and Istanbul for a successful campaign
MAPUTO (FIBA World Championship for Women) - Istanbul will be the destination Mozambique will have in mind when they make their debut at the FIBA World Championship later this summer (27 September-5 October).
The Africans will play their Group B games in the Turkish capital city of Ankara along with the host nation, Canada and France.
Nevertheless, Mozambique will only consider it a successful campaign if they reach the latter part of the Final Phase (Quarter-Finals to Finals), which will take place in Istanbul.
The AfroBasket Women 2013 runners-up will need to face the uphill battle of finishing in the top three places of its Group Phase in order to keep their successful dream alive.
They last won an official game in September after beating Cameroon in the Semi-Final of the African Championship held in their capital city of Maputo.
Mozambique are the lowest ranked team in the FIBA Ranking Women of the 16 that are in the field for Turkey 2014, and the team is aware of the challenge ahead.
"Anything is possible," says Deolinda Gimo.
"The girls will need a lot of encouragement, and the team needs to improve a culture of winning," argues former international Clarisse Machanguana.
Both Gimo and Machanguana talked to FIBA.com, and it became clear that, in recent months, Istanbul has never been so much in the minds of their fellow Mozambicans for special reasons.
This team is the first in the country's sports history to qualify for a major team-sport world championship in decades.
Long gone are the days when Lurdes Mutola raised the country's flag for her individual success in athletics at the Sydney Olympics and several world championship appearances.
"We know it won't be easy for us to qualify for the next round, but we have to believe in ourselves, first, despite the lack of internal competition and planning that Mozambique basketball faces," explained Gimo.
"We'll spend many weeks away from our family and friends, but we want to be ready for the world championship.
"We have already seen films of our opponents, and I think we have a chance to advance to the second round. Anything is possible," added the 1.90 centre.
Machanguana, who played a key role for Mozambique's qualification for Turkey 2014 before retiring minutes after this past AfroBasket Women final against Angola, defends the need of holding training camps overseas in order to improve the team's "competitiveness level".
After playing three warm-up games against Angola last month, coach Nasir Sale and his team will continue their preparations in Japan later this month, followed by a training camp and Europe.
Mozambique preliminary squad for FIBA World Championship for Women: Deolinda Ngulela, Anabela Cossa, Odelia Mafanela, Catia Halar, Elizabeth Pereira, Valerdina Manhonga, Filomena Micato, Rute Muianga, Inguivild Mucaro, Regina Mahoche, Deolinda Gimo, Ornila Mutombene, Leia Dongue, Ana Flávia Azinheira, Amelia Macamo, Ilda Chambe, Isabel Mavamba, Eliana Ventura and Sofia Vieque.