Nigeria Falcons will Monday begin their campaign at the African Women’s Championship (AWC) aiming to avenge their ouster from the London Olympics by Cameroun.
The six-time African champions were upset by Cameroun’s Indomitable Lionesses in the qualifying rounds of the 2012 London Olympics. They lost 4-3 on penalties after aggregate scores stood at 3-3.
The Super Falcons are yet to lose to Cameroun at the AWC.
The first meeting between the two nations at full international level was when they clashed in a 1991 World Cup qualifier when Nigeria triumphed 6-0 on aggregate.
Nigeria again beat Cameroun in the final of 2004 AWC 5-0, before both countries met in 2010 edition in the semi final with Falcons victorious 5-1.
Cameroun stars include Ajara Nchout of Energy Voronezh, Jeanette Yango, Madeline Ngono and Francoise Bella, while Nigeria coach Kadiri Ikhana will rely on tested campaigners led by Perpetua Nkwocha (Sunnana SK, Sweden), Stella Mbachu, Rita Chikwelu, Onome Ebi (Attesihir Belediyen, Turkey), Helen Ukaonu (Sunnana SK, Sweden) and Precious Dede.
They will be missing strikers Francisca Ordega and Desire Oparanozie, who have not been released by their new Russian club.
The Falcons have won this biennial competition a record six times and are eager to win at Equatorial Guinea where they failed in 2009.
Meanwhile, Super Falcons Head Coach, Kadiri Ikhana, has declared that Nigeria will defeat The Indomitable Lionesses in their opening game of the AWC.
“The loss to Cameroun is still fresh in our memory and it will remain there until we defeat them in a big tournament like this," observed Ikhana Sunday.
Ikhana had coached the men’s national U-23 side and will make his debut in his first ever AWC as a coach when he leads the Falcons onto the field this evening against Cameroun, an experience he says he is looking forward to.
“I am excited to be here and I am looking forward to the challenges of a big tournament like this. However, I will be more excited when Nigeria lifts the trophy on November 11. I am concentrating more on the tournament itself and ensuring that the women are ready for the task ahead.”
The Falcons have had two training sessions since arriving Equatorial Guinea on Thursday night and Sunday at 2.30pm, the same time of the match against Cameroun at the Nkoantoma Stadium in Bata.
“The team has responded very well in training. The motivation from the Nigeria Football Federation has lifted their spirit and emotions, and they are ready to face Cameroun.
Ikhana went further to ask for support from all Nigerians as the team prepares to defend the title won in South Africa in 2010.
“We need the spiritual support of all Nigerians and they should also believe that we are here to do them proud.”