IT’S NIGERIA V SOUTH AFRICA AGAIN AS SUPER FALCONS START TITLE DEFENCE

IT’S NIGERIA V SOUTH AFRICA AGAIN AS SUPER FALCONS START TITLE DEFENCE

BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

 

About 24 hours after their men national teams squared up in Johannesburg, the women squads of Nigeria and South Africa will face off in another continental duel.

 

This time at the Cape Coast Stadium, it is Matchday 1 of the Africa Women’s Champions where both teams are pitched in Group B.

 

The Super Falcons have always prevailed over Banyana Banyana. Pre-African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON), Nigeria humiliated South Africa 11-2 aggregate (4-1 in Ibadan and 7-1 in Johannesburg) in 1995, which determined Africa’s single qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup later that year in Sweden.

 

Both teams then met in the final of the 2002 AWCON in South Africa with the host team abandoning the match in the 73rd minute having conceded two goals.

 

The Super Falcons stopped South Africa in the semi-finals of the last two editions; 2-1 in Namibia 2014 with both goals by Asisat Oshoala, and a Desire Oparanozie’s thunderous free kick two years later in Cameroon.

 

Oparanozie, the EA Guingamp of France star, says the Super Falcons will not underrate their opponents as they are focused on a good start and ultimate title defence.

 

The 24-year-old striker attributes the confidence to the cordial team spirit on and off the pitch.

 

Equatorial Guinea will come in later in the day to face Zambia in the other match of the group.

 

The only other team apart from Nigeria to have won the trophy (2008 and 2012), Equatorial Guinea are expected to challenge the Super Falcons. But

 

the central Africans will first have to handle Zambia, who are in the finals for only the third time. Quarter-finalists in 1995, Zambia did not qualify again until 2014. And they could not go beyond the group stage of that edition.

 

The AWCON finals also double up as a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign, as the top three finishers will book a ticket to France 2019.

 

Fixtures…

Group B: Nigeria v South Africa (4:30pm), Zambia v Equatorial Guinea (7:30pm)

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