Super Falcons’ midfielder Rasheedat Ajibade in action against Canada in a friendly in Victoria City in April this year
Ed Malik, A with Agency report July 04, 2022 11.00 AM
In what can be likened to an epic clash of the ‘titanesses’, the female teams of Nigeria and South Africa, the Super Falcons and Banyana Banyana respectively, will have their day in the opening game of Group C of the 12th Women Africa Cup of Nations which began in Rabat, Morocco on Saturday.
Both the Super Falcons and Banyana Banyana will be going to war for three points lead and dominance.
The nine-time champion and FIFA World Cup ever-present Nigerian Super Falcons have not forgotten how about 10 months ago and on home soil, the youthful Banyana squad ran away spectacular 4-2 winner in the final match of the first edition of Aisha Buhari Women’s Tournament at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos.
Not be weighed down by that setback, the Falcons have since bounced back and have been flowing once again, with formidable wings eliminating West African arch-rivals Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series for the WAFCON and coming close to stripping the ‘A’ Women Team of Canada in the second of a two-match tour in that country three months ago.
Super Falcons head Coach Randy Waldrum realizes the importance of the encounter on Monday and has promised to send out his best legs against the attacking Banyana Banayana; a team considered Nigeria’s strongest opponent in the African continent at the moment. And the South Africa’s team Coach Desiree Ellis is expected to brace up for the battle for crucial three points at the Moulay Hassan Stadium.
“Naturally, this is a very big game and we are looking forward to it. It is also a game that should be a good advertisement for African women football. When you have Nigeria playing South Africa at the senior women level, it is a treat.
“Our objectives and expectations remain the same: to earn a ticket to the World Cup and to win the trophy. We will take it one match at a time. It is interesting to play South Africa first, and we can move ahead from there.”
Super Falcon Team captain Onome Ebi, who is the oldest player at the competition at 39, has featured in five FIFA World Cup finals, and still looks vibrant enough to feature, hopefully, at the FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
According to Captain Ebi, she said, “for me, it is a good thing that we are playing South Africa first. It is a strong team and that will make our team to be strong and to give our best from the very beginning.”
Continuing, she exuded such confidence and said, “I have won this trophy several times but I still have the hunger to win it, and also to go to a sixth World Cup. We will look first to pick up the World Cup ticket, and then the trophy.”
However, the Nigerian Team will be without first choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who was suspended for receiving yellow cards in different matches of the qualifying series (against Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire) which has hoisted the task of manning the goalpost on Israel-based Tochukwu Oluehi for the epic encounter on Monday night.
There are four teams in each of the three groups of the 12-team finals, with the top two teams in each of the groups and two best third-placed teams proceeding to the quarter finals.
All the four semi-finalists will represent Africa at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, while the fifth-place team will be eligible for a play-off Tournament that will hold next year.
Saturday’s opening match saw Morocco’s Atlas Lionesses pipping Burkina Faso 1-0 to surge to the top of Group A.