The defending champions trade tackles with their bitter West African neighbours for a place in the competition’s last four
Nigeria will face Cameroon in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations with more than just a semifinal ticket at stake.
A win in Casablanca, Morocco, on Thursday for either the Super Falcons or the Indomitable Lions will guarantee the victor a spot in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
There would be WAFCON tears for the loser. Still, a place in February’s inter-confederation playoffs in New Zealand and Australia will offer consolation and a back door to the Mundial.
Despite losing their opening match 2-1 to South Africa, the Super Falcons are the finest attacking unit in Morocco with seven goals.
The nine-time continental champions humbled Botswana 2-0 on matchday two and bumped Burundi 4-0 on Sunday to make it past the group stage.
Cameroon, just like Nigeria, finished as their group’s runners-up. The Indomitable Lionesses are, however, unbeaten in three matches so far – winning one and drawing two games.
The Lionesses forced high-flying Zambia to a stalemate, drew 1-1 against Togo, and taught Tunisia a 2-0 lesson.
With a tight defence conceding only once, the Cameroonians may be in the best shape to face their eternal nemesis.
Nigeria are the most successful team at the WAFCON, with the most titles (9) and the most victories (53).
Cameroon were the unfortunate losing side on three of those time the Falcons triumphed.
The Lionesses were runners-up to Nigeria in 2004, 2014, and 2016.
An African giant in their own right, the Cameroonians have the third most wins at the Wafcon (21) – behind Nigeria and South Africa.
The Lionesses are one of just three teams to have beaten (in 2012) the Falcons in the last 16 years, even though it is their only win in the last five encounters against the Nigerians.
Penalties were, however, needed to separate the two teams the last time they met in the semifinal of the 2018 edition.
The Super Falcons also triumphed on penalties in the final against South Africa to lift the trophy in Ghana.
Competition: Africa Women Cup of Nations
Match: Cameroon vs. Nigeria
Venue: Stade Mohamed V, Casablanca, Morocco.
Date: Thursday, July 14, 2022
Kickoff time: 18:00 (6 pm, Nigerian time)
Nigerian player to watch
With Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala injured, others have stepped up to be counted, including Mexico-based Uchenna Kanu, who grabbed a brace against Burundi.
The star girl of the Nigerian team, however, remains Rasheedat Ajibade.
The 22-year-old Atletico Madrid forward made it into CAF’s best eleven of the group stage alongside defensive kingpin Osinachi Ohale.
Ajibade’s vision and quality in the final third could be crucial to any Super Falcons victory on Thursday.
With an unrivalled history and a fearsome attack, Nigeria will be the slight favourites against the Indomitable Lionesses.
But the Cameroonians have dogged fighters and will match the Falcons on every blade of grass on that Moroccan pitch. A narrow win will settle this.
Tip: Cameroon 0 – 1 Nigeria