Paris 2024: Super Falcons Battle Banyana In Penultimate Olympic Round Qualifiers

Paris 2024: Super Falcons Battle Banyana In Penultimate Olympic Round Qualifiers

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By Our Correspondent

Spectators who will troop into the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday are guaranteed a game for the vintage memory as nine-time African champions Nigeria and reigning champions South Africa clash in a highly explosive and no-holds-barred encounter with the Olympics ticket at stake.

Both countries, with stellar talents in the women’s game, are arguably among the best in the world at the moment, and a terrific advertising of the best of women’s football is at hand as from 5pm Nigeria time.

The Super Falcons were Africa’s best team at last year’s FIFA World Cup, but the Banyana Banyana were not far behind as they also made it to the Round of 16 in Down Under.

To underscore their seriousness about giving the Super Falcons a good fight for the ticket, the delegation of Banyana Banyana to the encounter arrived in Abuja on Sunday, and have been training for the big match since that day.

On Monday, the South African High Commission started active mobilization of South Africans living in Nigeria to come and support the reigning African champions.

On Wednesday, NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi called on residents of Abuja and environs, and even in the neighbouring States, to storm the MKO Abiola Stadium in their thousands to cheer the Falcons to victory.

The above means that a sizable crowd is guaranteed inside Nigeria’s largest football temple on Friday evening.

Coach Randy Waldrum is most likely to stick to his tested-and-trusted World Cup rearguard, including goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie and defenders Michelle Alozie and Osinachi Ohale. In the absence of the injured Oluwatosin Demehin and Ashleigh Plumptre, Alozie could move to left back to give returnee Chidinma Okeke the space on the right, with youngster Shukurat Oladipo likely to pair Osinachi in the centre.

Hard-as-nails Halimatu Ayinde and Christy Ucheibe will spearhead the midfield, with Captain Rasheedat Ajibade and the slippery Deborah Abiodun providing the guile and flamboyance. Uchenna Kanu, Esther Okoronkwo, Jennifer Echegini, Rinsola Babajide, Gift Monday, Asisat Oshoala and the returnee Chiwendu Ihezuo are all options in the attack.

For sure, Coach Desire Ellis also has dependable weapons in her armoury, not least of them the nimble-footed Thembo Kgatlana, as well as Jermain Seoposenwe, both based in Mexico. There’s also the crafty Hildah Magaia, as well as midfielders Linda Motlhalo, Jane Refiloe and Nomvula Kgoale.

“We want our people to come to the stadium and support us. The Super Falcons do not fear any team. With their support, we will play with total confidence and overcome,” said goalkeeper Nnadozie.

The return leg will take place at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Tuesday evening.   

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