Super Falcons Shift Focus To AWCON Qualifiers

By Anulika Menanya, Lagos.

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Nigeria’s Senior National women’s team, the Super Falcons, have now set its focus on the forthcoming Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers after the disappointing loss to South Africa.

Two penalties and an own goal by defender Michelle Alozie handed Banyana Banyana a 4-2 victory to claim the maiden Aisha Buhari Cup on Tuesday. On the night, Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala was marked out of the game and France-based forward Desire Oparanozie missed several scoring chances.

The experienced Onome Ebi also committing a blunder. The Falcons assistant coach, Ann Chiejina, acknowledged the team’s faults and said they will re-strategize ahead of the AWCON qualifiers against Ghana.

“Every team that is playing against Nigeria wants to beat us, even a small girl or boy wants to beat, but it is for us to know that anything can happen anytime,” Chiejina said. “That is why I said we will go back to our drawing board, we saw what happened.”

“We will go bring out some strategies of how we are going to go about it, we will put it into practice and at the end the end will justify the means. The most important thing I still say is Ghana. We have seen them when we are calling players to camp we will know who we are calling to help us.”

Chiejina said the absence of some of their players had a part in the defeat to South Africa.

“Remember that Ajibade (Rashidat) is not here, Payne (Toni), Osinachi (Ohale) and Zogg (Salome),” Chiejina added. “We have quality players but when we converge next time we will be able to see them and when next we are playing we will know what to do.”

The Aisha Buhari Cup tagged “Playing for Good”  was organised by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), with support from the Aisha Buhari Foundation, an NGO of Nigeria’s first lady.

Banyana Banyana of South Africa won the Aisha Buhari Cup trophy

The event was also held to help drum up support for women and girl-child empowerment for better opportunities. And with the success of the inaugural edition, stakeholders and fans want more of this level of tournament to continue hold in Nigeria.

In line with the Aisha Buhari Foundation objectives, the chairman Local Organising Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi, confirmed that the competition will not be a one off. Akinwunmi said the committee will be looking into various modalities including the tournament format and schedule.

“It will take place next yearbut there are various things we need to look at like the format of the tournament, when we can that format if we want to and many other things so it certainly will take place. We are statin preparation for next year right now,” said Akinwunmi.

The Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi

Akinwunmi also reacted to the defeat describing it as a blessing in disguise. He said it is better that the Falcons lost in the six-nation invitational tournament rather than the 2023 FIFA women’s World Cup qualifiers.

“That’s football and it’s a good thing that this happened now rather than in the qualifiers. So the coach then needs to go back and have a look at the team again,” Akinwunmi added.

“But really, all in all the team did well. The South African side was a very good side, we will work harder and come out tops next time but don’t forget we are playing for good, we want to win but we are playing for good and I think we have.”

The first round of the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers will take place between October 18-26 in 2021, while the second round is in February 14-23, 2022.

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