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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Again, Cameroon Comes Into Contention As Nigeria’s Flamingos Will Battle Central African Republic In Douala –

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FIFA World Cup bronze-medallists Nigeria will begin their quest for a place in this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup next weekend, when they take on their counterparts from Central African Republic in a second round, first leg encounter in the Cameroonian city of Douala.

 

The Central Africans have for many years now made Douala home, as a result of lack of an approved stadium for international matches in Bangui or any other city in their country. It was in Douala that they hosted the Super Eagles in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in November 2021, which the Eagles won 2-0.

 

The match already scheduled for Sunday, 4th February will hold at the Stade de la Reunification de Douala, and commence at 3pm Cameroon time. Nigeria’s Flamingos, who won the bronze medals of the last edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup hosted by India, after a penalty shootout defeat of Germany, have appeared at every edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals bar one – the 2018 finals in Uruguay.

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Already, the Confederation of African Football has appointed Tunisian official Emna Ajbouni as referee, with her compatriots Khouloud Amri, Ameni Hammemi and Asma Chouchane as assistant 1, assistant 2 and fourth official respectively. Eugenie Mbainaye from Chad will serve as the commissioner.

 

For the return leg in Nigeria, Moroccan official Zakia El Grini will be referee, with her compatriots Ihsane Ennouajeli Nouajli, Karima Khadiri and Sabah Sadir in the roles of assistant 1, assistant 2 and fourth official respectively. Naa Odofoley Nortey from Ghana will be the commissioner.

 

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The second leg will take place at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, 10th February 2024.

 

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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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Banyana Banyana rewards player for 100th cap despite Olympic failure

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The South African Football Association (SAFA) on Tuesday awarded Banyana Banyana right back, Lebohang Ramalepe a 100th cap milestone jersey  despite the disappointing goalless draw with Nigeria’s Super Falcon.

The result meant that South Africa lost out to Nigeria in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualification on a 1-0 aggregate.

The skillful Ramalepe who plays as a defender was part of the  Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Banyana Banyana winning squad, as well as the side that finished in the Round of 16 at the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup.

For Nigeria, it will be the fourth time at the Olympics after the editions of 2000, 2004 and 2008.

 

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Rasheedat Ajibade scored Nigeria’s first winning goal against South Africa in eight years –

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Rasheedat Ajibade scored Nigeria’s first winning goal against South Africa in eight years -

When Captain of the side, Rasheedat Ajibade scored from a 43rd minute penalty kick and gave Nigeria a 1-0 win over South Africa in a Paris 2024 Olympics qualifier in Abuja on Friday, it was the first time that the Super Falcons had beaten the Banyana Banyana since their 1-0 win at the  Women’s Africa Cup of Nations o 29 November 2016 in Limbe, Cameroon.

Ever since, the encounters have been tight and regulation time scorelines had been in South Africa’s favour.

In their next encounter after 2016, South Africa shocked Super Falcons 1-0 in a Group a Group B match of WAFCON in Cape Coast, Ghana. They eventually played goalless in the final match and Nigeria excelled 4-3 on penalties.

The next two encounters in 2021 and 2022 ended in victories for South Africa.

 

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Nigeria Mobilises Against South Africa –

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Nigeria Mobilises Against South Africa -

The General Secretary of Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi has implored Nigerians based in the Federal capital, Abuja and environs, and indeed from neighbouring States, to troop out in large numbers to the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday to support the Super Falcons in their Women’s Olympic Football Tournament African final qualifying, first leg game against South Africa.

Nine-time African champions Nigeria and reigning African champions South Africa clash in a potentially-explosive affair in Nigeria’s magnificent sporting facility as from 5pm on Friday. The return leg is due for Pretoria’s high altitude arena, Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday next week.

Girls are ready – Uchenna Kanu and Halimatu Ayinde at training on Wednesday.

“The NFF is calling on Nigerians from all over the Federal Capital Territory and the neighbouring States, and indeed from all over Nigeria, to come out in their tens of thousands to cheer the Super Falcons to victory in the match against South Africa.

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“This is a big match by all standards. We are specially appealing to our people to come en masse and support the Super Falcons. It is important for us to get a big win here in order to be in good stead before flying to South Africa. A handsome win here will bolster our ladies with the confidence and mentality to overcome in Pretoria,” Sanusi said.

 

Nigeria has not participated in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament since 2008, when the Falcons lost all three matches in the group phase in China.

 

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Captain Rasheedat Ajibade said on Wednesday that the objective of Africa’s leading women’s team, the Falcons, remains the same right from the beginning of the qualifiers.

 

“From the time we played Ethiopia, we have been committed to seeing these qualification series through. Our objective has always been to win a slot to the Olympics. Most of us are yet to play in the Olympics and it is a big issue with us. We want to be there in Paris.

 

“There are a couple of issues the Super Falcons have to sort out with Banyana Banyana, really. However, that is not the motivation this time. The motivation is qualifying for the Olympics.”

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Nigeria emerged Africa’s top team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand eight months ago, unbeaten in regulation time before exiting at the Round of 16 courtesy of penalty shootout defeat by England.

 

As at lunchtime on Wednesday, captain Ajibade and 20 other players were in the Super Falcons’ camp, and the team had a first training session at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Wednesday morning.

 

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The Banyana Banyana delegation arrived in Nigeria on Sunday.

 

In Camp:

 

Goalkeepers: Chiamaka Nnadozie, Tochukwu Oluehi, Linda Jiwuaku

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Defenders: Jumoke Alani, Osinachi Ohale, Chidinma Okeke, Shukurat Oladipo, Michelle Alozie, Nicole Payne

 

Midfielders: Rasheedat Ajibade, Toni Payne, Deborah Abiodun, Jennifer Echegini, Christy Ucheibe, Halimatu Ayinde

 

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Forwards: Uchenna Kanu, Gift Monday, Omorinsola Babajide, Ifeoma Onumonu, Esther Okoronkwo, Chiwendu Ihezuo

 

 

 

 

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