Road to Morocco 2022: Nigeria, Ghana rekindle old rivalry in Lagos as Falcons face toughest test

This crucial encounter will not only be a qualifier match to pick a ticket for next year’s AWCON final in Morocco where African representatives for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand will emerge, it will be an anniversary match for both Super Falcons and Black Queens who met for the first time ever in Lagos 30 years,  8 months and 4 days ago. It was in the 1st FIFA Women’s World Cup China’91 African qualifiers clash watched by 30, 000 fans led by former Nigeria’s  First Lady, Mrs. Maryam Babangida who was the Special Guest of Honour.

The Black Queens of Ghana departing Accra Airport enroute Lagos on Monday.

The epic match which took place inside the mainbowl of the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos on Saturday,  February 16, 1991 saw Nigeria humiliate Ghana’s senior women’s football team (Black Queens) 5-1 with Eucharia Ngozi Uche banging in a hat-trick, the first ever by any Nigerian and African player in the CAF-organised competition. Other scorers on the day were defender Ngozi Ezeocha and fleetfooted Okunwa Igunbor while Patience Quarshie retrieved one goal for Ghana.

The return leg match at Accra Stadium two weeks later saw Nigeria beat Ghana 2-1 away as Uche and Igunbor scored again, to heralded the birth of All-conquering Super Falcons which later went undefeated in African continent for 11 years till the African Women Championship (AWC) Nigeria 2002 Group A 1-0 defeat of Super Falcons led by United States -based Coach Samuel Okpodu, at Warri Township Stadium.  Nigeria was to avenge the defeat in the final with a 2-0 bashing of Ghana to lift the Mrs. Mariam Sani Abacha donated trophy for keep, the first time.

Well Done Girl…Super Falcons Asisat Oshoala (No.8) and goalie Chiamaka Nnadozie (No.18) join in celebrating Monday Gift two-goals heroinein the Nigeria vs Mali tie at Onikan Waterfront last month.

With the above background, the match in Lagos will evoke emotions especially for Nigerian fans who will want to banish the ghost of Super Falcons 4-2 defeat by Banyana Banyana of South Africa in the same Onikan Waterfront last month in the final of the Aisha Buhari Cup. It was a day everything went bad for the reigning African Champions as an own goal and two unpadonable penalty kicks committed by the defenders ensured that all the bottles of champagne put in the ice by the Nigerian organizers of the tournament were not opened in the end.

This match therefore has presented the Super Falcons under the tutorial guidance of United States-born Coach Randy Waldrum, the opportunity to shame their critics, and perhaps vindicate those who believe in them to still possess the same traits of their forerunners who never lost to Ghana Black Queens in two-legged encounters.
On paper, Super Falcons look primed to beat Black Queens in Lagos with the armada of “stars” who are banging goals with reckles abandon in the European like team Captain Asisat Lamina Oshoala of FC Barcelona Feminine in Spanish women’s league who has been in devastating form abroad but who is yet to shine at home. Uchenna Kanu of Sweden’s Linkonping is another player who has not replicated what she is doing in club at national team level.

Super Falcons Head Coach, Randy Waldrum. ..Can his players make him to smile like this in Lagos and Accra? Time will tell.

However, Coach Waldrum has to dig deep to select a winning squad based on the early arrivals in the camp with some players trickling into Lagos camp less than 48 hours to the crucial game just as he will instruct his wards to avoid costly mistakes against dangerous Black Queens as any match between Nigeria and Ghana is a war.

Also, the Ghana Black Queens players who participated in the Lagos Invitational Tournament were not the players who will prosecute this game as Head Coach Mercy Tagoe hinted of twicking her squad based on the availability of his oversees-based professionals.  With many of them joining the team before the Black Queens left Kotoka International Airport on Monday to Lagos, certainly Super Falcons will have an uphill task in their hands hence they should adopt the motto of the Boys Scout: “Always Be Prepard”. This way Nigeria wins.
Elsewhere, only Djibouti has qualified for the Second Round at the expense of Rwanda which withdrew leaving even the powerhouses to be scratching their head why they were not paired against countries that will not honour away games like Rwanda .
**Morocco 2022 First Round Qualifying Fixtures**
First Leg First Round matches scheduled to be played between 18 and 26 October 2021.
***1st Leg / 2nd Leg***

Nigeria   Ghana 20 Oct- 24 Oct
Uganda –  Ethiopia 20 Oct- 26 Oct
Kenya  – South Sudan 20 Oct- 24 Oct
Eritrea  Burundi 20 Oct -23 Oct
Djibouti-  Rwanda 20 Oct- 26 Oct
Malawi-  Zambia 20 Oct -26 Oct
Tanzania – Namibia 20 Oct -23 Oct
Zimbabwe-  Eswatini 20 Oct -26 Oct
Angola-  Botswana 20 Oct -26 Oct
Mozambique  -South Africa 20 Oct- 26 Oct
Algeria-  Sudan 20 Oct 26 Oct
Egypt-  Tunisia 20 Oct 26 Oct
Equatorial Guinea –  DR Congo 20 Oct 24 Oct
São Tomé and Príncipe –  Togo 20 Oct- 26 Oct
Congo-  Gabon 20 Oct -26 Oct
Central African Republic  -Cameroon 20 Oct- 24 Oct
Sierra Leone – Gambia 18 Oct -25 Oct
Liberia-  Senegal 20 Oct -26 Oct
Mali – Guinea 20 Oct -24 Oct
Guinea-Bissau – Mauritania 20 Oct -26 Oct
Burkina Faso – Benin 20 Oct- 24 Oct
Niger –  Ivory Coast 20 Oct- 25 Oct.

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