A crunchy clash is on the cards as the football rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa is set to be rekindled on Monday at the ongoing 12th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.
Though the Super Falcons are miles ahead in terms of their achievements in women’s football in Africa, South Africa’s Bayana Bayana qualifies as one of the most-improved teams on the continent.
Among other numerous feats, the Super Falcons have gotten to nine WAFCON finals and won all.
However, Bayana Bayana have made it into four finals but lost all and are desperate for a change in fortunes in Morocco.
While winning the title in Morocco is the ultimate aim for both the Super Falcons and Bayana Bayana, the target for Monday’s game is to secure all three points on offer.
Coach Randy Waldrum and his ladies will be treading with caution against their Monday opponents having suffered a surprise defeat in their hands 10 months ago in the final match of the first edition of the Aisha Buhari Women’s Tournament.
Despite playing on Nigeria’s home soil, the youthful Banyana squad ran away with a spectacular 4-2 victory at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos.
Monday’s tricky group opener will see Coach Waldrum deplore his best legs against a team considered Nigeria’s strongest opposition on the African continent at the moment.
Coach Desiree Ellis on her part is also expected to do likewise as she believes her team can do enough to get the crucial three points at the Moulay Hassan Stadium on Monday.
Coach Waldrum in his pre-match conference said: “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’s football. When you have Nigeria playing South Africa at the senior women’s 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.”
For team captain, Onome Ebi, who is the oldest player in Morocco at 39, starting against South Africa will bring out the best in the Super Falcons.
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 strong and give our best from the very beginning.
“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.”
Nigeria will be without first-choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who is suspended for receiving yellow cards in different matches of the qualifying series (against Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire).
This development means Israel –based Tochukwu Oluehi could be between the sticks for the Super Falcons against the Banyana on Monday night.
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