By Ekikere Udofia
Cape
Coast City Stadium came alive as always when defending champions Nigeria began
their campaign against South Africa in Group B of this year’s Africa Women Cup Of
Nations, AWCON.
With
different groups adorned in colours as red, yellow, green and white, fans could
not get enough of chanting, clapping, jeers and hailing within the stadium.
The
Super Falcons had few supporters either dressed in their replica jerseys,
mufflers, face caps or holding a small size flag of their country.
With
90 percent of the players in the Super Falcons’ squad termed
“experienced” as against a South African side that had never played
at the World stage, all pointers were to the Nigerian team to win this.
Alas,
the ladies from Nigeria got a late sting in the 86th minute when Chrestinah
Kgatlana brilliantly connected a cross from her teammate who was in the
midfield axis and from the edge of the box attempted an angular shot on target.
BOOM!
It hit Tochukwu Oluehi so hard that she was seen visibly accosting her teammate
for not standing up to that challenge.
Three
points of course went to the Banyana Banyana side at the end of it all,
something, probably only the most optimistic of South Africans would have seen
coming.
That
seemed to have opened the way for the second game of the day as the Shepolopolo
of Zambia thumped Equatorial Guinea five times to convincingly seal a 5-0
victory over the second most successful team ever in this competition.
The
“rush hour” reinstatement of the Guineans into this year’s AWCON was
very glaring as they played like the real unprepared dogs.
Zambia
on the other hand were a side with a full definition of young, athletic, but
inexperienced players as they missed a couple of chances that could have seen
them up to nine goals up against their opponent with Rachael Kundananji failing
to make it a hat trick, missing a 76th minute penalty for her side.
They
now sit comfortably on Group B with 3 points and Goal difference of +5.
South
Africa is second with 3points and a +1 goal difference.
Nigeria’s Falcons
get Zambia, South Africa warning
 

Chreestina Kgatlana

That
didn’t end there as the two most valuable players on the night sent a RED
SIGNAL to the defending champions at post match conference.
“We’ve
seen a lot of comments on social media but today everyone can see that football
is not about Nigeria but it’s about everyone who is “willing” to play
against Nigeria”. ~ Chrestinah Kgatlana ( MVP – Nigeria Vs South Africa).
“Nigeria
here we come, just like a wounded buffalo, this time we have come for something
and we are going to take it. This is not the Zambia you used to know. This is a
new ZAMBIA just like the new faces you’ve seen”. ~ Rachael Kundananji (MVP
Equitorial Guinea vs Zambia).
As
if Desiree Ellis rightly predicted at the post match presser, “it is not
over until it is over and that has changed the mentality/mindset of teams in
this group,” with Ellis admitting preparation was top notch for the team.
Equatorial Guinea
here to just participate
The
head coaches of the defeated teams, one of whom is Daniel Lola of Equatorial
Guinea attributed his team’s loss to the four day preparation which was the
only option he had after the CAF reinstatement of his team.
He
said the emphasis was on honouring this tournament by their participation to
avoid being banned by CAF. Just maybe we shouldn’t expect much from them.
True
to his words, a second ban for the Guineans would be an added injury to the
already existing FIFA ban they have.
Group
B second round of matches takes centre stage on Wednesday, November 21 as South
Africa play Guinea at 4:30pm while NIGERIA squares up with Zambia at 6:30pm.
Two
sides of a coin. As COSAFA teams in group B garner all three points in the
first round of matches so did West African teams in Group A on Saturday (Ghana
1-0 Algeria , Cameroon 2-1 Mali) followed suit.
The
battle of a new era of dominance begins.

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