Super Falcons have experienced a lot of negligence from the Nigerian Football Federation since their last continental triumph in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2016. The team starts defending their title against a much more prepared South African side today at the 2018 edition of the competition IDRIS ADESINA
Africa Cup for the 2018 Nations Cup kicked off in Ghana on Saturday with matches between hosts Ghana and Algeria and Cameroon and Mali.
But the defense champions, Nigeria, kicked off the defense title against South Africa on Sunday (today) at the Cape Coast stadium. Super Falcons won the eighth AWCON title two years ago in Cameroon and sought to choose one of three slots for the World Cup of Women in France in 2019 and to add another triumph to the last award.
After Falcons made the 11th event and Banyana ranked 10th in the competition, Nigeria hopes to continue its dominance on a much improved and motivated South African side. South Africa enters the tournament as champions of the COSAFA Women's Cup.
Banyana Banyana was busier than the Falcons, playing friendly matches with teams from Europe, South America and Africa. Well, motivated by cash by national team sponsors, Banyana Banyana has their eyes fixed on the end of one of the World Cup slots in 2019.
It is expected that the Falcons will overcome South African opponents who have won the title eight out of 10 times and have only lost the title twice for Equatorial Guinea. They finished the third time in 2008 and failed to win a medal in the tour once in 2012. South Africa is three times AWCON runners-up – 2004, 2014 and 2016. They finished the third time in 2002 and 2012.
Entering the match, Nigeria has an overwhelming advantage over South Africa, winning nine times in 11 meetings in the history of the competition, while South Africans have just managed a victory, which was a 1-0 victory in a semi-final at Equatorial Guinea 2012. Their last meeting was in the semifinals of the 2016 edition, when Nigeria scored a 1-0 victory.
Salişti are the nation's most successful national team and are heading for the tournament as favorites. But many stakeholders have been left to wonder that continuous service is paid to the Nigeria Football Federation team.
The World Cup Women's World Cup 1999 final is probably the least prepared team at the tournament. Since they won their title in Cameroon two years ago, the team was left without tangible activity until the 2018 qualifiers started in June – when they swallowed the Gambia 7-0 on aggregate to qualify.
The team of the most successful women in Africa has been without a coach for a year – after the contract with the coach of the year 2016, Florence Omagbemi – until the NFF announced that his coach Thomas Thomas Dennerby in January. The team played a friendly match with France in February, where they had 8-0. Starting with the qualifying, the team began camping for AWCON less than a month ago in Epe, the state of Lagos.
Less than two weeks ago, to the astonishment of many team followers, they started at the final stage of AWCON training in 2018 in Abidjan, dressed in mufti, showing a lot like a hasty team. The team traveled to Abidjan in various garments, with reports claiming that their troops were held at Moural International Airport, Lagos, due to lack of funds to remove them.
The team is also supposed to receive $ 6,000 total bonuses per player for their A18CON 2018 qualifying earnings on the Gambia in Banjul and Lagos. These are also assumed odds for competition camps.
"Yes, we still owe $ 6,000 for the two matches against the Gambia. Since we started the competition, we have not received any allowances and we are heading to the competition without getting bonuses," said one of the players who spoke on condition anonymity.
While in Côte d'Ivoire, his team faced ASEC Mimosas "Under-16 Boys", who lost 3-1 before winning 4-2 victory over the 11 Sisters of Abidjan in the second match friendly.
Former Falcons Stella Mbachu wondered how the team would do this for the team, compared to the level of opposition they will face in the tournament.
"It is really a sad situation that the Falcons must go through. Unfortunately, it has been so since we were in the team." We hoped things would improve, but there was no change, a team that defends titles playing a few small teams when their opponents play stronger opponents leaves much to imagine, "she said.
Although they were welcomed with songs and dancing in Ghana on Wednesday, the Falcons had no honor to travel in style in the host country. They have learned that they have traveled with the Zambian and Cameroon teams, who also died in Côte d'Ivoire.
However, it is not all the doom for the Falcons because Dennerby has the talent and the experience he has to ensure that his goals are met – Title Defense and World Cup Qualification. Dennerby will rely on the experience of Captain Rita Chikwelu, who will make his sixth appearance in Ghana, and veteran defender Onome Ebi, who is in eighth place in the competition. Ngozi Okobi and Desire Oparanozie, who make their fourth appearance, are also key members of the team, while Asisat Oshoala, the current player of African women, adds to the options of the Swedish tactician.
Dennerby and his assistants – Swedish colleague Jorgen Petersson; Justine Madugu and Maureen Madu – have the talents of former Falconets, Chiwendu Ihezuo and Rasheedat Ajibade, who make their debut in AWCON to add to experienced players. Ajibade, aged eighteen, is currently the best player in the domestic league and could add value to the team. Steaua FC Robo, if given the opportunity to tour, can prove to be one of the best advantages on the continent.
The Salişti will also play the COSAFA, Zambia and Equatorial Guinea Cup participants in the other group matches that are in defense of the title. They will meet with any of the hosts in Ghana, Cameroon, Algeria and Mali in the semifinals. The Ghanaians won the WAFU Women's Championship in 2018 after they beat Nigeria in the semifinals.
Dennerby said his team focused on World Cup qualifying.
He said, "Our ambition is to win the tournament, but importantly, to secure our World Cup ticket in France in 2019. Of course, we know it will never be easy, because there are many improvements to many teams, so it's important be prepared if you want to win games.
"There are always pressures on the head coach and you have to live with it. I am 59 years old, but I am fortunate to have experience from two world cups, two olympics, two European championships and a head coach for so many clubs as well as playing in But we can focus on our work and we can not speculate too much. I think we will have a good tour in Ghana. "
The team captain, Chikwelu, supported the coach.
"We want to qualify for the Women's World Cup because we think we should be there and play against the best teams in the world. Personally, I want to see that the Super Falcons arrives at the Women's World Cup semifinals and Ghana 2018 is an opportunity for us to show what we can do, we want Nigerians to pray for us so we can get to the World Cup and win the AWCON trophy, "she said.
But former midfielder Falcons Mbachu warns the team against satisfaction.
She said: "Everyone expects Nigeria to win, but given team training and lack of motivation for the players, the job will be difficult. The talents are there, but they must be motivated and well prepared to ensure that they give the best results in each match.
"The other teams are no longer what they were when Nigeria beat them five goals. The margin is very narrow now, and Falcons should not undermine any team in Ghana, otherwise it could be bothered by any of them."
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