The Confederation of African Football (Caf) says it is intent on developing women's football on the continent despite cancelling the 2020 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) last week.
The decision to scrap the Nations Cup was sweetened by the announcement of a continental Women's Champions League but it was still a bitter pill for many to swallow.
Last week, leading figures such as Nigeria's Barcelona star Asisat Oshoala and South Africa coach Desiree Ellis criticised the decision.
"Women's football is, today, one of the top priorities of Caf," the body's acting Secretary General Abdel Bah insisted to BBC Sport Africa.
"We perfectly understand the frustration of the top African players.
We consider today that it is a small step back for a huge step (forward) in the future regarding women's football.
" Bah expressed a desire to significantly invest in the women's game, while stating that the possibility of low viewing figures had also been a determining factor in scrapping this year's AWCON.
Nonetheless, cancelling rather than postponing the tournament - as Caf did with the men's Nations Cup (moving it from 2021 to 2022) - did not go down well with many protagonists.
"For African teams, if there's no qualifying games we don't play," said Oshoala.
"We don't do anything - and then, when there are qualifiers or an AWCON we go to camp.
We have to prepare and be ready, but right now African teams are not ready.
" "Taking away the AWCON will put a lot of dreams on hold," said Ellis.
"It has been a very complicated decision to make but at the end, the reasons are quite simple - obviously, it's all related to Covid-19," asserted Bah.
"We had the possibility to move this edition to next year but unfortunately it was impossible to find a slot by the end of 2021.
The only slot available was in June/July, which means during the European Championships, Copa America or the Olympics.
"We considered that we would have had a very, very low audience at the AWCON and this is why we took this very complicated decision - but also to get more focus on the development of women's football.
" The fact that not a single qualifying game had taken place, in contrast to the men's tournament, was also a factor, Bah added.
The Moroccan believes that an increasing desire within Caf to focus on women's football will ultimately bring dividends for the continent's players, even if it may come too late to those in the twilight of their careers.
"We know that this decision (to cancel AWCON) is complicated but we hope that we will see the results of our strategy in the next five years.
" The plan to achieve this is set to be through significant investment into an area that has been underfunded for many years, with national team players and coaches often paid late - if at all.
Until 2016, Africa's women's continental champions received the same amount - $50,0000 - as Africa's male Under-17 champions.
They may receive greater prize money today, but the AWCON winners' $200,000 is still $50,000 less than their male Under-20 counterparts.
"There is room for the development of women's football in Africa," added Bah, whose organisation organised its first continental symposium on the sport in 2018.
In the second half of 2021, a tournament perhaps featuring eight of Africa's best female club sides will play in perhaps a single host nation for the right to be the continent's best.
As implied, much has still to be decided - not least of all how the participants will be determined.
"We are still discussing the format but most likely, albeit still to be defined, the first edition of the Women's Champions League will be a final tournament in one host country," said Bah.
"We are still having discussions today about how many teams and how to qualify the teams - we don't know if we will have qualifiers or if we will take the best teams and qualify them directly for this first edition.
But for sure, it will be a final tournament.
" While explaining that the number of interested teams is likely to influence thinking, Caf said it is currently targeting 'maybe eight teams, and to organise it as two groups of four'.
Africa's ruling body is exploring the possibility of qualifiers - should they happen - on a regional basis, along the lines of the various zonal unions in a bid to save money on expensive travel costs.
Caf says one of its main priorities as it looks to restructure women's football across the continent is to gain more berths at the Women's World Cup.
Africa had three berths when the tournament featured 24 teams in 2015 and 2019, but its number of places for the newly-expanded 32-team finals in 2023 have still to be decided - with Bah expecting a decision next year.
"They will be very complicated discussions because all the confederations will push to get more," he said.
"We need to convince them that it is worth giving more slots to African teams.
We consider the best way to do that is to develop our local leagues.
" Under the terms of Fifa's Forward 2.
0 programme, Africa's nations will receive extra funding - which can total some $4m - until 2022 as long as they fulfil certain criteria, one of which is the organisation of a women's league.
Caf itself also receives $12m ever year, with one of the conditions being that part of this must be spent on developing the women's game.
"Part of this money has to go to women's development.
We are also sending subventions to all our members and one of the conditions is to use it to develop women's football - so we are trying to finance as much as we can.
" And there is an increasing amount requiring financial investment.
"People are quite surprised that today we have almost 30 women's leagues in Africa - we have to develop them, get focussed on them, professionalise them.
This is, for us, one of the best ways for our African teams to be much more competitive in international tournaments.
" Herein lies a problem for Africa's hopes of boost.