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Nigeria: Super Falcons Set to Appear in 12th Consecutive Awcon


The Super Falcons of Nigeria are aiming for a 12th appearance at the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), having always featured in the event since its inception in 1991.

They are the most successful team in the tournament, with nine titles to their credit and are currently looking forward to defending their title in Morocco.

However, the Lady Elephants of Cote d’ Ivoire stand in their way to achieving their goal, as the Nigerian team arrived in Abidjan for the return leg of the final fixture of the AWCON qualifiers, billed for Wednesday.

Coach Randy Waldrum ladies had earlier survived a scare, narrowly defeating Black Queens of Ghana 2-1 on aggregate, in the previous round.

They also claimed a 2-0 victory over the Ivorians on Friday, in Abuja, in the first leg, with debutant Ifeoma Onomonu scoring a brace, to give the team a fair chance of qualifying.

Although, the hosts won the game, the visitors gave them a good run for their money as the Falcons had to struggle to check the attacking duo, Christine Yeble and Amenah Kacou at bay.

France-based goal keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was forced to make numerous saves while defender Ashleigh Plumptre, had to work extra hard on the left side to silence the Ivorians, and captain Onome Ebi and Osinachi Ohale kept things in check on the right.

The last 20 minutes of the match saw Nigeria struggle to survive the onslaught of the Ivorians, before Burkinabe referee Jacqueline Nikiema whistled for the end of the game.

Meanwhile, high scoring Elephants had earlier defeated their counterparts in Niger Republic 20-0 on aggregate in the first round, demonstrating that they were not a side to treat with levity.

At the Stade Robert Champroux in Abidjan, on Wednesday, Nigeria is likely to face a very determined Elephants, who would be so compact in defence, with a more attacking front and unfriendly fans.

However, coach Waldrum says he was positive ahead of the return leg.

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“I feel positive about the second leg. I know and respect that the Ivorians are fully capable of getting results at home, so, we would prepare to get a good result as well.

“From the game in Abuja, we understood that the Ivorians want to be physical, want to foul, want to disrupt the game and more, but what we tell our players was not to allow any of those to affect them.

“We have a go in there on the front foot and not sit back and try to hold our 2-0 lead; but to get a goal and make it difficult for them.

“We will go after the win and grind results,” Waldrum added.

Meanwhile, Falcons would miss forward Asisat Oshoala, who is said to have been injured during one of the team’s training sessions in Abuja, but Waldrum says he’s happy to have other options.

“It gives me great joy knowing we have the depth. Even in the absence of Desire Oparanozie or Oshoala, we have players who can play in that position and I think these players embrace the competition,” he said.

A total of 23 players are in Abidjan for the match on Wednesday. They include: Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi, Chiamaka Nnadozie, Yewande Balogun

Defenders: Onome Ebi, Osinachi Ohale, Ashleigh Plumptre, Rofiat Imuran, Oluwatosin Demehin, Michelle Alozie, Nicole Payne

Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu, Rasheedat Ajibade, Toni Payne, Regina Otu, Peace Efih, Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene

Forwards: Uchenna Kanu, Francisca Ordega, Gift Monday, Christy Ucheibe, Mbadi Amanda, Ifeoma Onumonu, Esther Okoronkwo

Meanwhile, a total of 12 teams are expected to feature in the 12th edition of AWCON in Morocco, from July 2 to July 23.