Holders Nigeria take on Group B leaders Zambia today (Wednesday) in a crucial 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations clash in Cape Coast, Ghana, seeking redemption after losing their opening game.
The eight-time African champions must beat the Shepolopolo, who massacred former champions Equatorial Guinea 5-0 in their opener on Sunday, to revive their hopes of qualifying for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
The eight-team tournament for this year serves as the African qualifiers for the biggest women’s football competition in the world, with the top three teams getting the continent’s nod as representatives.
And after losing to South Africa, the Super Falcons know they cannot afford to drop more points as anything other than a win this afternoon will put them on the brink of missing out on the World Cup for the first time in their history.
To this end, key players Asisat Oshoala, who is the African footballer of the year, Desire Oparanozie, and Francisca Ordega must raise their game.
The aforementioned players were anything but ruthless in front of goal against Banyana Banyana, who deservedly got the win on the day.
Speaking ahead of the all-important clash, head coach of the Nigerian ladies Thomas Dennerby said his team were focused on getting the job done.
“We have ruminated over the defeat and everyone is focused on what we have to do to get to the next stage,” he said at a presser.
“It will not be easy but the players have expressed determination to win every match from this stage so that we can progress and pick a ticket to the Fifa World Cup, as a first objective.
“We are the champions and we have to show that spirit from the next match against the Zambians.”
Similarly, skipper of the side Onome Ebi did not mince words when she said that the Falcons would not leave Ghana without the trophy.
“We are sorry (for the loss to South Africa). We were down but not out. We’re not leaving here without the trophy,” Ebi told reporters.
And for no-nonsense defender Osinachi Ohale, the wounded African champions are ready to turn things around.
“We are all motivated because it’s our career, no one will say I have won the World Cup 100 times or 400 times am not going to give my best,” she told newsmen on Tuesday.
“Of course we know tomorrow’s game is a crucial one and we are also prepared, we have seen our last game, made some corrections and hopefully we are going to put everything we did in practice into tomorrow’s game.”
It is, indeed, a big game, and China-based Oshoala appears ready for the task of subduing the Zambians.
”It’s MAKE or BREAK day for us,” she tweeted on Wednesday morning.
It’s MAKE or BREAK day for us 🇳🇬🇳🇬💪🏾🦍🦍 pic.twitter.com/1kDxhuWN4r
— ASISAT M.O.N (@AsisatOshoala) November 21, 2018
The Nigerians are, however, not the only side talking tough. The Zambians are, too.
Bruce Mwape, who is the coach of the Zambian side, is confident the Shepolopolo can get the better of the holders.
“We are not playing names of teams and if people think Nigeria is untouchable well and good. Our mission here is to qualify to the World Cup,” he said.
Nigeria lie in third spot without a point, while Zambia and their neighbours, South Africa, are first and second respectively, with pointless Equatorial Guinea occupying the floor of the group.