Bragging rights and trophy are on the line as defending champions Nigeria take on South Africa in the final of the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) in Accra on Saturday.
The Super Falcons overcame stubborn Cameroon 4-2 on penalties to reach the final, while South Africa edged past Mali 2-0 to advance.
The wins also confirmed both teams’ places at next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
Thomas Dennerby’s ladies are seeking a record ninth African crown, while their opponents are aiming for their first ever title. But there is more at stake.
Nigeria were beaten 1-0 by the youthful Banyana Banyana in their Group B opener on 18 November. Revenge is on their mind.
As for South Africa, they are just one match away from rewriting the history books.
Talking about history, it is hugely on the side of the eight-time African champions. They have never lost in the final of the Awcon. They have also never lost twice to the same side in an edition, and Banyana lost all their three previous final matches of which one was to Nigeria in year 2000.
But South Africa have had the better of the Falcons on two occasions – 1-0 semi-final win in 2012 and 1-0 win in the group phase in 2018 – meaning they know what it takes to defeat Nigeria.
And with Nigeria seemingly struggling to dispatch African teams they hitherto breezed through, the South Africans, who are unbeaten at this tournament, will fancy their chances.
However, speaking ahead of the final duel, Dennerby assured that the Nigerian ladies would subdue their opponents.
“It was really a tough game [against Cameroon], a lot of players are tired, it’s time for recovery and I will say we have a good chance to win in the final,” he said.
“When it comes to the final we will do whatever it takes to bring the cup back to Nigeria.”
In a similar vein, Nigeria goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi boasted that her teammates would teach the South Africans a lesson.
“Meeting South Africa in the final is what we have been praying for because we want to play them again,” she said.
”We want to tell them that winning us in the group stage was a mistake and it’s not going to happen again. I’m sure we will beat them in the final.”
But head coach of the South Africans Desiree Ellis appears confident that her ladies would prevent Nigeria from winning their ninth continental title in Ghana.
“We will work together as a team and plan again. And hope to execute the plan because that’s all it is about,” she said.
“We have never won the Women’s Afcon and we are going to give it shot and see what happens on the weekend.”