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Falcons, Banyana Battle For AWCON Title

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…We’re hungry to avenge the loss S’Africa – Oluehi

…Go for victory, Amb. Abikoye charges Falcons

Nigeria’s Super Falcons will lock horns with their South African counterparts in the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) final at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, today

The encounter is scheduled to take place at the Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

The two teams have already booked their tickets to the 2019 FIFA Women World Cup in France, but will battle for supremacy and continental crown.

The perennial rivals met at the group stage of the competition, with South Africa claiming a surprise 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Thembi Kgatlana, the defeat which Falcons are eager to avenge, according to the team goalkeeper, Tochukwu Oluehi.

The Nigerian girls are the most decorated team in the history of the AWCON having dominated the competition to an embarrassing degree, with only Equatorial Guinea breaking their clean sweep on only two in 20 years of its existence.

Nigeria and South Africa have been in the final together once – in 2000, when the South Africans hosted but the Falcons successfully retained the trophy after a 2-0 defeat of the hosts in Johannesburg.

While the whole team worked together for the hard –fought win over Cameroon in the semifinals, special credit go to goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi for her calmness and confidence throughout, including stopping Gaelle Enganamouit’s kick in the penalty shoot –out, which lifted the Nigerians’ confidence.

On Saturday, Oluehi would as usual, be protected by the quartet of Josephine Chukwunonye, Onome Ebi, Osinachi Ohale and Ngozi Ebere, with Rita Chikwelu, Halimatu Ayinde and Ngozi Okobi likely to star in the middle, behind Ordega, Oparanozie and Oshoala.

Experience is an advantage standing ramrod on the Nigerian side, but it would not be an easy afternoon against a skillful, creative, energetic and technically –savvy Banyana Banyana side boosted by their 1-0 defeat of the Cup holders in the opening match of Group B in Cape Town, November 18.

Some other positives have put the South African camp in buoyant mood. Victory over Mali in Cape Coast on Tuesday meant the Banyana will make a first –ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup come summer of 2019, and players like Thembi Kgatlana (whose goal put Nigeria to the sword) and Lebohang Ramalepe (sumptuous effort against Mali) are fired up for today’s final.

Kgatlana has already been installed as the revelation of the tournament as she leads the goals’ chart with five, and in Captain Janine Van Wyk, who will be making her 159th international appearance, the Banyana have a leader who knows where all the crumbled cookies in African women football have been deposited.

Speaking ahead of the cracker, Nigerian goalkeeper, Tochukwu Oluehi says her team will be out for revenge.

With the main aim of securing a place in the 2019 Women’s World Cup already achieved, Nigeria are chasing a record-extending 9th title, while South Africa are hoping for their first, having been runners-up no less than four times.

“Meeting South Africa in the final is what we have been praying for because we want to play them again and tell them that winning against us in the group stage was a mistake and it’s not going to happen again. I’m sure we will beat them in the final,” Oluehi boosted.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the Republic of Ghana, Olufemi Abikoye has congratulated the Super Falcons for their endeavour so far at the 11th Women Africa Cup of Nations, while charging the girls to go all out for victory against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in today’s final.

Delivering a message from President Muhammadu Buhari when he visited the team at Presco Secondary School during their training session, Ambassador Abikoye praised the eight –time champions for seeing off the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon in the semifinals.

“You defeated Cameroon at home the last time to win the title so everyone knew the semifinal match between both teams was going to be very tough. But we thank God you put in all your strength and you listened to the instructions of the coaches and were able to come out on top. The analysts gave the match to Cameroon, but you proved them wrong.

“So, on behalf of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, I want to say big congratulations.”

He added: “On Saturday again, it is not going to be easy. Cameroon came out strong because you defeated them in Yaounde in the 2016 Final. You cannot allow South Africa to beat us twice here in Ghana. It is now your turn to seek your revenge against the South Africans and win the trophy on Saturday”.

The Ambassador further pledged that the Nigerian Community in Ghana will come out in their numbers on Saturday to support the team.

“We have large numbers of our people who have been here for long. They will all come out on Saturday to support you. So, put all your energy and technical know-how into the encounter and win the trophy. A champion will always be a champion”.


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