Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon are highly tipped as favourites for the African Women Championship which kicks-off in Namibia on Saturday.
The championship is scheduled for 11-25 October 2014 in the Independence stadium and the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
It will also serve as qualification for the Fifa Women’s World Cup to be held in Canada from 6 June to 5 July, 2015.
The top three nations from the two-week long tournament will represent Africa in Canada.
The Super Falcons, Black Queens and Indomitable Lionesses should intimidate the other five nations competing at the finals.
But the Brave Gladiators, Banyana Banyana, Chipolopolo Queens, Les Eléphantes and Les Fennecs Dames will be hoping to gate-crash the Canadian party.
Group A: Namibia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia
Continental powerhouse Nigeria’s Super Falcons will be seeking redemption in Windhoek after they finished fourth in the last edition, their worst result in the history of tournament.
The most successful team in the competition, with six titles, Nigeria only failed to win in 2008 and 2012, losing their title to hosts Equatorial Guinea on both occasions.
The Super Falcons are expected to safely fly out of the group consisting of apparent lightweights in debutants Zambia and Namibia.
This time around Nigeria’s squad has a blend of experienced campaigners and talented youngsters.
Veterans Perpetua Nkwocha, Stella Mbachu and Onome Ebi, will play alongside Ugochi Njoku and Asisat Oshoala, who both helped Nigeria reach the final of the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada in August.
“We are not under-rating any team but we have the right mix of players to prove to everyone that we are still the giants of Africa,” Oshoala, top scorer and Most Valuable Player at the Fifa U-20 Women’s World Cup, told BBC Sport.
Debutants and hosts Brave Gladiators of Namibia will be counting on home support to help them navigate their route out of this group.
Ranked 113th in the world, coach Jacqueline Shipanga will be seeking inspiration from defender Stacey Naris and striker Thomalina Adams.
Ivory Coast, who crashed out in the first round at their maiden appearance in 2012, will draw inspiration from their emphatic qualification as they aim to reach the semi-finals.
Les Elephantes defied the odds by edging out defending champions Equatorial Guinea in dramatic style in qualification.
After managing a 1-1 draw at home in the first-leg, they forced the two-time champions to a 2-2 draw away, to book a place in Namibia on away goals rule after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate.
Coach Clementine Toure is confident she has the squad to make an impact and prove that their giant-killing act was no fluke.
After edging Tanzania and Zimbabwe to book their place in the tournament proper, Zambia’s Chipolopolo Queens have hopes in Hellen Mubanga and Kabange Mupopo to help steer them beyond a predicted doom.
GROUP B: Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa and Algeria
Ghana’s Black Queens are hoping to make a bold statement on their return to the championship.
Three-time runners up, third place winners twice, Ghana failed to come out of their group in 2008 and 2010 before failing to qualify for the 2012 tournament to underline a disappointing slump.
The perennial underachievers are drawn alongside experienced campaigners South Africa and Cameroon.
They will need Faiza Ibrahim, Samira Suleiman, Elizabeth Cudjoe and Mercy Myles to be at their best if they are to make it to the World Cup like they did in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Regular campaigners South Africa are still looking for their first trophy after finishing runner-up thrice in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
Coach Vera Pauw and Banyana Banyana aim to create history by qualifying for their maiden Women’s World Cup, and they have two stars that could turn that dream into reality.
Vastly experienced Portia Modise has scored 98 goals and targets her 100th international goal. , while star midfielder Nompumelelo Nyandeni, 27, is brimming with confidence.
“I think we are looking sharp and looking good for this tournament. I’m confident of my team. I trust my team-mates, ” Nyandeni said.
“I would be very happy to qualify, having already been to the Olympics.
“It is exciting, and our dream is to play in the World Cup. If we qualify we hope that many doors will be opened up for players to play overseas.”
Ever-present Cameroon – they have never missed an edition of the AWC since 1998 – are desperate to claw their way to Canada.
The Indomitable Lionesses are planning to roar into history by playing at the World Cup and follow in the footsteps of their male counterparts.
If they can finish in third place in Namibia, a feat they achieved in 2002 and 2012, then it will be good enough to land them in North America next year.
“We have shown consistency playing at the AWC, now is the time to do it on the world stage,” Coach Carl Enow Ngachu said.
Spare a thought for makeweights Les Fennecs Dames of Algeria as they embark on a mission impossible.
In three previous appearances they failed to survive the group stage. They will open their campaign against Ghana before facing Cameroon and South Africa.
They carry the hopes of North Africa and coach Azzedine Chih will be hoping they don’t crumble under the weight of expectations.
The draw for the 9th African Women’s Championship – Namibia 2014 will take place on Saturday, 19 July 2014 in Windhoek.
The qualified teams are Namibia (Hosts), Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
Below is the procedure for the draw;
A1 is the host country: NAMIBIA
B1shall comprise of the cup holder, Equatorial Guinea, who did not qualify for the Final Tournament) or the team having obtained the best ranking in the previous tournament:SOUTH AFRICA
The 6 remaining teams (ALGERIA, CAMEROON, CÔTE D’IVOIRE, GHANA, NIGERIA AND ZAMBIA) are all seeded in the 2nd level in one bowl containing 6 balls.
The ball drawn 1st will be in Group A and a draw will be done to determine its position(A2, A3, A4) from the second bowl.
The ball drawn 2nd will be in Group B and a draw will be done to determine its position(B2, B3, B4) from the third bowl.
B1……………………………………. South Africa
FIFA has suspended Nigeria indefinitely after government interference in the running of football in the country.
The country will not be entitled to participate in the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (5-24 August 2014) should the suspension not be lifted by 15 July 2014.
Nigeria will also forfeit an U17 African qualifier in DR Congo slated for July 20 if the ban is not lifted.
In a press statement on the FIFA website, the FIFA Emergency Committee has decided today to suspend the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) with immediate effect, on account of government interference. Article 13, par. 1 and article 17, par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes oblige member associations to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.
The said court order compelled the Nigerian Minister of Sports to appoint a senior member of the civil service to manage the NFF until the matter was heard in court, without giving any date for such a hearing.
The authorities then appointed a person who decided to convene an extraordinary general assembly on 5 July 2014. This extraordinary general assembly was convened in violation of the NFF statutes.
Originally, an elective congress had been planned by the NFF to take place on 26 August 2014.
The suspension will be lifted once the court actions have been withdrawn and the properly elected NFF Executive Committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without any interference in their affairs.
As a result of this decision, no team from Nigeria of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact (art. 14 par. 3 of the FIFA Statutes).
During the period of suspension, the NFF may not be represented in any regional, continental or international competitions, including at club level, or in friendly matches.
In addition, neither the NFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any FIFA or CAF development programmes, courses or training during the suspension period.
Banyana Banyana are preparing for a friendly match against the Black Queens of Ghana scheduled for next Sunday at the Dobsonville Stadium in South Africa.
This match will come at a time that the team are preparing for the African Women’s Championship qualifier against Comoros scheduled for the end of this month.
The Ghana friendly will be coach Vera Pauw’s second match in charge after her first game in charge against Zimbabwe at the same venue last month ended in a 2-2 draw.
“It is an honour to be playing a power house in Africa like Ghana. We are making good progress since we last played Zimbabwe,” Pauw said.
“I am happy with the direction women football is taking in this country and would like to thank both the sponsors Sasol and Safa for affirming women soccer.”
Pauw will name her final squad to play Ghana on Tuesday.
Coach of the Flamingoes of Nigeria, Bala Nikyu, is optimistic of his team’s chances of qualifying for the last four of the ongoing FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
The Nigerian girls face Spain in the quarter-finals, after impressive displays which saw them advance from the group stage with a 100% record.
Nikyu expects a tough game against the Spaniards, who beat Paraguay 7-1 in their last game, but remained confident that his girls have what it takes to progress.
“We would ensure that we win this game within the allotted time and we are looking at the possibility of not allowing the game to be dragged into a penalty shootout,” he said.
“I agree that Spain has been making progress since they started but they won’t progress (beyond the quarterfinal) at the expense of Nigeria on Friday.”
Spain coach Jorge Vilda, is banking on his side’s impressive attacking line-up to trouble Nigeria, but admitted that they still need to work on their finishing.
“This team goes from strength to strength. It’s always the same for us at major tournaments; as the games go by, the team gets better and better. Our last two results have shown our attacking potential,” Vilda said.
“But there are still aspects of our play that we need to improve, such as nervous starts and little uncharacteristic lapses. We still have work to do.”
Nigeria is seeking its first ever semi-final appearance, while Spain will be hoping to surpass their third-place finish at Trinidad and Tobago in 2010. The game takes place at the Estadio Edgardo Baltodano on Friday (3am Nigerian time).
Ghana and Nigeria are keeping Africa’s hopes alive at U17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica after the other representative of the continent, Zambia were knocked out in the group stage.
The two teams are through to the quarterfinals of the competition and they both face stiff European competition.
Ghana had been impressive until their last match were they fizzled to a desperate 10-man Canada, falling 2-1 after they had pummeled everyone in their group including the much-fancied Germans.
The Black Maidens now face the Italians in Match 26 in San Jose on Thursday and the Ghanaians will have to find their speed again of they have any hopes of beating the pacy Italians.
The Nigerians, on the other hand picked the right time to find their form, putting out Colombia and China, the Nigerians were on fire against the solid, co-Group D favourites Mexico.
They are yet to be beaten, and after dismantling the team from North America 3-0 are set to face Spain in Match 28 ironically in the city with another West African connotation – called Liberia.
Nigeria are just as fast as Ghana but are also slick up the middle and in the air, where Kanu has been deadly with her headers and is living up to her famous namesake Nwankwo Kanu.
Both teams certainly have the potential to progress to an all-African semifinal on the 31 March.
Ghana and Nigerian are set to advance into the second stage of the ongoing 2014 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation Aminu Maigari has attributed the impressive performance of the Flamingoes of Nigeria at the FIFA under 17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica to the preparations the team had prior to the tournament.
The Flamingoes were camped in Faro,Portugal before they departed for the North American continent for the World Cup.
Nigeria in their first game at the tournament stunned powerhouses,China winning 2-1 to get their first win in the competition and last night equally beat Colombia by the same margin to qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
”We’ve given them very befitting friendly international which i believe they did very well, they played boys and girls in Faro Portugal so it’s as good as given them all sort of required friendly matches,” Maigari told a Nigeria based radio station.
He further added that they will get better as they progress in the tournament:”I believe they will keep improving, if you go by their status they are just young and fresh players and for them to play at the world cup, i believe they will keep improving” he added.
Nigeria and Mexico have both qualified for the last eight but would face each other in the last group game,to ascertain who will top the group.
After their impressive start in the group stage of the FIFA U-17, Ghana coach Evans Adotey has stated that his team has now turned its focus to Germany.
A win in the next game will grant Ghana, who beat Korea DPR 2-0 in the first match, passage to the next round in Costa Rica but the fixture on Tuesday represents a major task for the Black Maidens.
The Germans showed their worth after rallying back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Canada. But Adotey does foresee the game defining who qualifies from Group B.
“Not really,” Adotey said. “Except a win on Tuesday against Germany to ensure that I have qualified because I need only three points to qualify to the next stage.”
At the last World Cup, both teams met in the group stage which the Germans won but in the match for third place, Ghana triumphed to win bronze.
Adotey says it’s a changed side from the one the Black Maidens faced in Azerbaijan two years ago.
“Looking at Germany as compared to the previous edition, this time I saw an all-round new team. Looking at how they played [2-2 draw with Canada], they were down 2-0 but came all the way after 60 minutes to end the game 2-2.”
Though a new side, the striking fightback exhibited by the Germans on Saturday has given the Ghana coach an insight about his next opponents.
“This is an indication that we have to be careful. I am preparing to make sure that Ghana go around Germany.
“I am not worried but it’s good for a coach to always get ready or stand on his or her feet. My first game plan is to keep a clean sheet. If I don’t score, they don’t score.
“Coming all the way to redeem the two goals conceded in the first half, I would take a look at them. I would not rush into goal scoring. My objective is to win this particular game,” the Black Maidens coach said.
Ghana got off their U-17 World Cup campaign off to a winning start as the Black Maidens defeated Korea DPR 2-0 in the Group B opener on Saturday in Costa Rica.
A Jane Ayieyam first half goal and a second after the break by Sandra Owusu-Ansah sealed victory in Liberia as Augustine Adotey’s side jump to the summit of the four-team table.
It was a perfect start for Adotey, whose team return to action on Tuesday against Germany at the Estadio Edgardo Baltodano Stadium.
Ghana, bronze medalist at the last competition started off strongly against the 2012 runners-up but could not find the net as their best effort in the early minutes was a cross by Lily Niber-Lawrence that flew across the face of goal with no one to tap in.
The Koreans also stringed a couple of passes and showed Ghana how dangerous they could be on the ball.
However, Ayieyam put Ghana in front when she she controlled a ball in the box and slipped it under the diving arms of Korea’s goalkeeper Kim Myong Sun in the 17th minute.
Korea caused Ghana some problems when Berlinda Anane cleared off the line with Azume Adams beaten. Ghana held onto their slim lead to end the half 1-nil up.
Both sides returned from the break and it was the Koreans who pushed for the equaliser.
But eight minutes into the restart, Ghana doubled their lead when Owusu-Ansah took advantage of a defender ‘s indecision to round the goalkeeper and plant the ball into the empty goal.
The Ghana bench made two changes, bringing on Princella Adubea and Vinoria Kuzagbe for Owusu-Ansah and Laadi Issaka.
Two-nil up and the Black Maidens kept it tight though Korea still threatened as they missed two glaring chances that could have changed the game.