Nigeria’s senior female national football team, the Super Falcons are set to defend their Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, WAFCON title in Morocco after being been paired in Group C with South Africa, Burundi and debutants, Botswana.
The complete schedule of the tournament was determined on Friday evening after the draw which took place in Rabat.
The toughest opponent will Bayana Bayana while recalling their last meeting in Lagos when South Africa defeated Nigeria 4-2 to win the 2021 Aisha Buhari women’s invitational tournament in the closing match at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium, Onikan on Tuesday, September 21.
Group A have host nation, Morocco who will battle it out for the two available slots against Burkina Faso, Senegal (who are making their return after almost a decade) and debutants Uganda.
Group B is made up of Cameroon, Zambia Tunisia and Togo.
A total of 12 teams are taking part in the tournament’s 14th edition. The competition will run from 2nd to 23rd July this year.
Nigeria are the defending champions after they beat South Africa 4-3 on penalties in Accra Ghana to win the 13th edition in December 2018.
HOW THE SUPER FALCONS QUALIFIED
The defending champions escaped an early exit thanks to a nervy 2-1 aggregate win over arch rivals Ghana despite suffering a 1-0 defeat in Accra, which was their first-ever loss in the qualifier’s history. On surviving the Black Queens’ scare, they completed a double over Cote d’Ivoire with a 3-0 aggregate win to keep a fourth consecutive and 10th title dream alive.
First Round: Nigeria 2-0 Ghana (0-1)
Second Round: Nigeria 2-0 Cote d’Ivoire (1-0)
The Super Falcons kicked up with preparation with a high-profile two-match international friendly with Olympic champions Canada. They lost 2-0 in the first match in Vancouver before surrendering their lead twice to draw 2-2 in the second leg three days later in Victoria City. They are scheduled to have a camp in June in Morocco where they are likely to wrap up their build up with an test match with the Atlas Lionesses.
COACH: Randy Waldrum
The experienced American tactician accepted to replace from Swedish Thomas Dennerby in 2020, three years after he missed out on the offer. Despite losing to Ghana, Waldrum guided the Super Falcons past their biggest West African foes – Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to the 12th finals, where he will hope to steer the team to a 10th continental crown and the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification
Oshoala enters the TotalEnergies WAFCON as one of the top-scoring players from Africa abroad, scoring 19 goals in 16 outings for Barcelona. The 27-year-old, who made a mark at the 2014 and 2016 editions, where she won the Best Player and Topscorer of the tournament respectively. The reigning and four-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year will be anxious to maintain her huge reputation by replicating her fine form at the new 12-nation tournament.
The 38-year-old is the longest serving Super Falcons player, with six previous WAFCON appearances and four titles for the West Africans. At Ghana 2018, she co-captained the team to a record ninth title and this time, the veteran centre-back has been handed the captaincy role for Morocco 2022 campaign. Ebi holds an African record with fifth Women’s World Cup outing and she will aim to lead Nigeria to a record 10th crown on her seventh appearance.
Kanu inspired the Super Falcons to the 2019 WAFU B Women’s Cup triumph, scoring 10 goals in five games. During the qualifiers, she was influential as her brace was all Nigeria required to squeeze past Ghana. The 2019 African Women’s Player of the Year nominee exceled in Sweden, scoring 22 goals in 42 games for Linkopings in 2021 before moving to Mexico. Just 14 games in Liga MX, the 24-year-old has scored 10 goals, including hat-tricks twice for Tigres UNAL. Her good run of form will no doubt improve the already studded attack ranks of the team during the expanded women’s competition.