Eternal Rivals, Super Falcons, Banyana in Supremacy Battle in Rabat


Duro Ikhazuagbe

Two of Africa’s powerhouses in women’s football, Nigeria and South Africa will go to ‘war’ at 6pm this evening in Rabat for the three points at stake in the Group C opener of the 12th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

Hosts Morocco secured all first three points in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday against Burkina Faso with a 1-0 victory to lead Group A.

The South Africans got the upper hand in the rivalry between Super Falcons and the Banyana Banyana just 10 months ago in the Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament hosted by Nigeria at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena on Lagos Island. That 4-2 defeat of nine-time African champions Nigeria, is the last time both countries have clashed to make today’s battle a fierce one for Falcons who have won the four WAFCON finals they have played against the ladies from Nelson Mandela’s territory.

Since then, however, the Falcons have flown 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.

Monday’s spectacle will see Coach Randy Waldrum send out his best legs against a team considered Nigeria’s strongest opposition on the African continent at the moment, and Coach Desiree Ellis is expected to do likewise as both teams of titanesses battle for crucial three points at the Moulay Hassan Stadium in Rabat.

“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.”

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 at the FIFA World Cup in Australia & New Zealand next year: “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.

“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), meaning Israel –based Tochukwu Oluehi could be between the sticks for the Super Falcons against the Banyana on Monday night.

After Monday’s epic clash against  Banyana Banyana, the Super Falcons have other games against Botswana (7th July) and Burundi (10th July).

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