The two losers of the semifinals will look to regain some pride in Casablanca and ensure the other team returns home empty-handed
Nigeria will aim to end their time in Morocco on a high when they meet Zambia on Friday, July 22, in the third place match of the 2022 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Both teams were victims of controversial refereeing decisions in their semifinal losses and will target winning the bronze medal in this clash as some consolation.
Dethroned champions Falcons were reduced to nine women before they surrendered their crown in a penalty shootout loss to Morocco.
The Copper Queens, on the other hand, fell 1-0 to South Africa, with the Banyana Banyana winning courtesy of a stoppage-time penalty.
Since the tournament kicked off in 1998, this is only the third time Nigeria will play in a third-place match – winning one and losing the other.
The Super Falcons defeated Cameroon 5-4 on penalties in 2008 but lost 1-0 to the same opponents at the 2012 edition.
The nine-time winners will be heavy favourites when they face a Zambian team making it past the group stages for the first time in three attempts.
It is a clash that could, however, prove complicated for the Nigerians as administrative problems currently beset the team.
In protest against unpaid bonuses and allowances, the Falcons refused to train on Wednesday, and there is a possibility that they could boycott the game on Friday.
And even if they turn up for the match, motivation and match fitness may be lacking, which may play into the hands of a rejuvenated Zambia.
Bruce Mwape’s ladies were impressive as Africa’s representatives at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and have already secured a first-ever ticket to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
There is no better time to record their first victory over Nigeria.
Nigeria dominated the previous encounters against Zambia, winning both meetings by an aggregate score of 10-0.
The Super Falcons claimed a 6-0 win in their first face-off at the 2014 edition and defeated the Copper Queens 4-0 at Ghana 2018.
Will they be third time perfect?
Competition: 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations
Match: Nigeria vs. Zambia
Stage: Third place match
Venue: Stade Mohamed V, Casablanca
Date: Friday, 22 July 2022
Kickoff time: 9 pm (Nigerian time)
Players to watch
Nigeria will sorely miss the quality input of star girl Rasheedat Ajibade and mercurial midfielder Halimatu Ayinde, who were both red-carded against hosts Morocco.
But this is the opportunity for the lively Uchenna Kanu and Gift Monday to come to the team’s rescue and fire the Falcons to victory.
This match could be more challenging than anticipated, but Nigeria still boast more quality across the pitch than the Copper Queens.
The former champions could, however, suffer in the absence of several key players, including Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala.
But the Falcons have guts and grits, as evidenced by their dogged display against the Atlas Lionesses. And it would take a monumental performance from Zambia to win this.
Tip: Nigeria 2 – 1 Zambia
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