Defending champions of the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), Super Falcons of Nigeria, would not under-rate any of the other finalists when the 10th edition of the African Women Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon on November 19, the team’s handler, Florence Omagbemi, has revealed.
Omagbemi, the longest-serving captain of the Super Falcons, was installed as head coach early this year and has already experienced triumph, steering the seven-time African champions past Senegal over two legs to earn a berth in Cameroon.
Alongside other Falcons legends Ann Chiejine and Perpetua Nkwocha, Omagbemi has somewhat restructured a squad that failed to qualify for the women’s football tournament of this year’s Olympics and lost to Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire at the 11th All-Africa Games in Brazzaville last year, imbuing it with greater morale.
“We have been playing against Ghana’s Black Queens for years. I remember when our team was newly established; our first game in the qualification series for the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup was against Ghana.
“We have played against Mali before and we know they are no push-over. Now, Kenya is coming to the African championship for the first time, but from the way they qualified, after beating Algeria, they must be respected.
“Surely, we will take the games against all three countries as seriously as we have been doing in the past. You know, we are the cup holders and every team would want to beat us.”
The champions will kick-off their campaign against Mali at the Limbe Stadium on November 20, before taking on the Black Queens three days later and Kenya on November 26, at the same venue.
“This is year 2016. A number of teams on the African continent have improved and we cannot afford to look down on any team. For instance, South Africa and Zimbabwe qualified for and played at the Olympics in Brazil, at which we were absent. They gained valuable experience.
“Coming back to our group, we just have to keep a level head. The Black Queens of Ghana are very good and we must be ready for them. But we have no reason to fear any team. We are the champions of Africa. All we need to do is to prepare hard and go to Cameroon to defend our title.”