History comes calling on Monday as Randy Waldrum’s Nigeria take on Desiree Ellis South Africa in Group C’s opener.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria and Bayana Bayana of South Africa will kick off their quest for a Women’s Africa Cup of Nations glory on Monday when they go head-to-head at Stade Moulay Hassan in Rabat.
Both Nations, pre-tournament favourites of this 12th edition of the competition, were finalists of the last edition held in Ghana, in 2018.
For South Africa, Monday’s game will be a chance to get a WAFCON revenge having lost to the Super Falcons on penalties in 2018’s final.
Nigeria, on the other hand, would want to get off to a good start on the path to its 10th championship after being denied the chance to defend it in 2020 as a result of the tournament’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the last 13 times Nigeria and South Africa clashed, the Super Falcons had the upper hand: seven wins as compared to Bayana Bayana’s three.
The last time both nations met – at the final of the 2021 Aisha Buhari Invitational – South Africa defeated Nigeria 4-2.
The 2021 Aisha Buhari Cup final between Nigeria and South Africa
Heading into Monday’s game, the Super Falcons go in on the back of a doubleheader with Canada that ended in a 2-0 defeat and a 2-2 draw, while South Africa, suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat to 2019 Women’s World Cup finalists Netherlands, in a friendly game in April.
Last 5 games (Nigeria): D – L – W – W – L
Last 5 games (South Africa): L – D – W – L – W
Players to Watch
Gotham FC forward Ifeoma Onumonu will be looking to continue her fine form for the Super Falcons against South Africa. Onumonu has scored three of Nigeria’s last five goals, with two of those, most remarkably coming against Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying playoffs.
Asisat Oshoala is a four-time Africa Women’s Footballer of the Year, a joint-record she holds with Nigerian legend Perpetua Nkwocha
While Onumonu might be a threat, Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala will be an even bigger – and more familiar – one. The 27-year-old, Africa’s Women player of the year, scored a remarkable 20 goals this season to clinch the Pichichi award in Spain.
One thing Nigeria and South Africa have in common is their pool of attacking talents, a reason Thembi Kgatlana will be one to look out for on the South African team. Kgatlana has since finished the 2018 WAFCON as the Player of the tournament and highest goal scorer, gone on to become one of the most lethal strikers on the continent.
At just 24, Linda Mothalo is already considered the fulcrum of Banyana under the watch of coach Desiree Ellis. She made her senior debut at the age of 17
While the 26-year-old is not busy for Bayana Bayana, Linda Motlhalo is. The unheralded maestro in South Africa’s midfield scored two of the four goals against Nigeria in the final of the Aisha Buhari Cup in 2021.
Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum: “When it gets down to playing football, football is football whether you’re playing in CAF or you’re playing in CONCACAF or wherever. I feel very confident with where we are and with our preparation. We understand the challenge in front of us, and understand Nigeria is the team to beat.”
Randy Waldrum at the Aisha Buhari Cup 2021
South Africa’s coach Desiree Ellis: “The first game of the tournament is always the biggest game and this makes it even better because it’s against defending champions Nigeria and because it is Nigeria, the game is bigger than what it is supposed to be. We want to start well and, we know it is going to be a tough encounter. They are not Champions for nothing.”