The 2022 TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON), kicks off in Morocco today. The Super Falcons will confront South Africa’s Bayana Bayana in their first match of the tournament on Monday, 4th July before other games against Botswana (7th July) and Burundi (10th July).
This will be the 14th edition of the WAFCON and the first to feature 12 teams (split into three groups: Group A – Morocco, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda; Group B – Cameroon, Zambia, Tunisia, Togo; and Group C – Nigeria, South Africa, Burundi, Botswana). DStv and GOtv customers can look forward to all the matches.
The last WAFCON was played in 2018 in Ghana and saw Nigeria claim a record-extending 9th title after defeating South Africa on penalties in the final. The scheduled 2020 WAFCON was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons start as the favourites to continue their dominance of women’s football in Africa, with coach Randy Waldrum leading a star-studded team which is determined to claim WAFCON glory once again.
Ahead of the commencement of hostilities, coach Waldrum said, “I am thinking of qualifying for the World Cup as it has always been the goal even though we want to win the Nations Cup. I think we are prepared as regards our previous games and we have to thank the president for giving us the opportunity to play those games.
“We have a lot of attacking options to choose from and we have lots of players that can interchange. We will be more prepared against South Africa this time and we are looking forward to the match. They are a quality team and one of the best in Africa,” he said.
“We are aware of the intense competition that is going to play out here in Morocco. We have no illusions,” said Nigeria captain Onome Ebi. “Women’s football has continued to grow in a lot of other African nations, faster than anyone can imagine.
“So, there will be nothing like underrating any team. All the teams will be upbeat about their chances and winning tickets to the World Cup. On our part, as defending champions, we know our strengths. We know what we have to bring to the pitch to conquer.”
The main threat to Nigeria’s ambitions will come from South Africa and Cameroon – both appearing at their 13th WAFCON tournaments – while the likes of hosts Morocco, Zambia and Senegal will be dark horses.
On their way to the tournament, the Super Falcons were controversially drawn against fellow title contenders Ghana in the first round of qualifying, edging them out 2-1 on aggregate. They faced another tricky tie against Ivory Coast thereafter, but prevailed 3-0.
Falcons coach, Randy Wuldrum could use Chiamaka Nnadozie as the first choice goal keeper of the team while Onome Ebi could play in the defense line alongside Glory Ogbonna, Osinachi Ohale and Ashleigh Plumptre.
The midfield could contain the likes of Rasheedat Ajibade, Rita Chiwelu and Toni Oyedupe while the likes of Francisca Ordega, Gift Monday and Asisat Oshoala could be the attackers.
The WAFCON serves as a qualification tournament for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. The four semifinalists secure automatic qualification to the global tournament, while the four losing quarterfinalists will play two separate playoffs in a ‘Repechage’ round, with the two winners of those matches advancing to the inter-confederation playoffs – a mini tournament staged in Australia and New Zealand early next year which will determine the final qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup.