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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Morocco 2024: Madugu confident Falcons will fly, as Cape Verde girls storm Abuja

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Coach Justin Madugu has expressed deep faith in his Super Falcons’ squad to excel when they clash with their Cape Verdean counterparts in a 2024 Women Africa Cup of Nations final round, first leg qualifier at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Thursday evening.

 

“We are without a few regular players for various reasons but we are not here to dwell on that. The Super Falcons’ team remains the Super Falcons anytime, anyday and anywhere. We have players in camp who will do justice to the badge and get us the qualification ticket to the AFCON.

 

“Surely, we would have wanted a couple more days for the team to train together, but the fixture is the fixture and the window is the window, and we just have to make do with what we have and get the best out of the arrangement. Everyone in camp will play their part for the Super Falcons to qualify for Morocco 2024.”

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A total of 20 of the 21 invited players were at the team’s camp on Tuesday morning, with only University of Pittsburgh of America’s Deborah Abiodun still expected.

 

Nine-time champions Nigeria reached this final stage of the qualification series following the withdrawal of Sao Tome’s senior girls from a second-round fixture in September.

 

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The delegation of Cape Verde’s senior girls flew into Nigeria’s capital, Abuja on Monday morning, and the visiting team will have its official training at the mainbowl of the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Wednesday evening from 4pm.

 

Thursday’s encounter will begin at 4pm, with Madugu most likely to hand leadership of the rearguard to Mexico-based veteran Osinachi Ohale, who was among the first players in camp, and with Captain Rasheedat Ajibade to lead a midfield and attack that could include Peace Efih, Toni Payne, Esther Onyenezide, Omorinsola Babajide, Esther Okoronkwo, Uchenna Kanu and Gift Monday. Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, in the shortlist for the CAF African Player of the Year awards holding in Morocco this weekend, will be in goal.

 

The 13th edition of Africa’s flagship women football championship will be staged in Morocco in July next year.

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For the encounter in Abuja on Thursday, the Confederation of African Football has picked Ghanaian official Ama Boateng-Nkansah as referee, with her compatriots Doris Darko, Alice Chakule and Barikisu Salifu as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively. Oumou Sy from Guinea will be commissioner while Madeleine Somda from Burkina Faso will be the referee assessor.

 

For the return leg in Praia on Tuesday, 5th December, Liberian Sylvina Welma Garnett will be the referee with her compatriot Hannah Moses as assistant referee 1. Sierra Leoneans Precious Amara and Humu Marah will be assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively, while Oumou Souleymane Kane from Mauritania will serve as commissioner and Fadouma Dia from Senegal will be in the role of referee assessor.

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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