Intimidating Morocco crowd or not, we are determined to get to WAFCON final says Okobi-Okeoghene￼
For the Moroccans, the encounter with Nigeria this evening is akin to the final match of WAFCON as they are having their best moment ever.
The fixture recalls their very first WAFCON match back in 1998 when the rampaging Super Falcons pummelled them 8-0, their heaviest defeat.
Morocco have however been revelling in the current edition winning all their four matches while Nigeria have only won three having lost the opening game to South Africa.
But that is where the fairy tale of Morocco ends. The four matches won on home soil are their only victories in the 24 -year history of the tournament.
They have qualified for the WAFCON twice in 1998 and 2000 and lost all matches including twice to Nigeria. In 1998, Nigeria won 8-0. In 2000 in South Africa, Nigeria won again 6-0. This is their third clash in the series and the 11th WAFCON match for Morocco.
Nigeria, the dominant power in WAFCON have played 59 matches and lost just six. This match will be their 12th semi-final match. They failed only twice in 2008 and 2012.
But apart from the 11 Moroccan players on the pitch, the Super Falcons have the 12th force, the crowd to contend with.
But that may not be a big issue if what the 28-year old Sonia Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene told cafonline.
“We have played against teams playing at home and we know how to manage games like this. We do not care about how many people are in the stadium. We shall come into this game with the sole purpose of winning and going to the final.”
The reference here are the 2-0, before the abandonment of the final match against South Africa in 2000 and the 1-0 defeat of Cameroon in 2016 in front of over 42,000 fans inside the Ahmadu Ahidjo Stadium.
According to Ngozi, that experience will come in handy. The Sweden-based midfield genius is hoping to play in her fifth WAFCON final, but Morocco stands in their way.
Morocco may not be dependant on home support alone. Their coach, Reynald Pedros told cafonline:
“We are preparing the same way that we have been preparing for the other matches. We are doing our best. After the quarter-final, we are well-rested and trying to remain focused on our next objective. We have qualified for the World Cup and now our next target is to make it to the final and win the WAFCON 2022.”
“Nigeria is truly a strong team – the strongest in Africa. They always qualify for the World Cup. We have studied them and know their strength and I can say that in the semifinal, everything is possible. We need to do our best.”
“We know that they are strong. They are the strongest for many years. We know this, however, we are going to do our best in this game. We know who we are facing. It is up to us,” Pedros pointed out.