Sam Paul

Nigeria’s Super Falcons will begin their group A opening match against their West Africa Country, Ivory Coast in the ninth edition of Africa Women Champions which kicks off on Saturday in Namibia.

Eight teams will take part in the competition organised by Confederation of Africa Football CAF.

Nigeria who won the title in the sixth time drew in group comprises of hosts, Namibia, Ivory Coast and Zambia. Group B consist of Algeria, South Africa, Ghana and Cameroon.

This year’s edition will be tough for all the participating countries knowing full well that the finalists and the third place position will represent the Africa in next year’s FIFA Women World Cup scheduled for Canada.

In 2008, the Super Falcons suffered their first humiliation in the African Women Championship, losing to a relatively unknown Equatorial Guinea in the semi-final. That defeat in Malabo saw the Falcons, which was led by late Coach Joseph Ladipo, surrendering their AWC title for the first time.

•Falcons’ coach, Okon

•Falcons’ coach, Okon

Again in 2012, the Falcons, under the tutelage of Coach Ikhana Kadiri, travelled to the same country and returned home with tales of woes after suffering another shocking, embarrassing and painful defeat, this time in the hands of Banyana Banyana of South Africa.

With such two big falls within four years, the record books came crashing and the six-times African champion soon became an ‘enemy’ of the fans. They have been walking alone since then.

The performance of Falconets at the last FIFA U-20 Women World Cup held in Canada has brought hopes and optimism that the senior national team will have good outing in Namibia.

Super Falcons Coach, Edwin Okon had invited some of the U-20 players to the national teams such as Loveth Ayila (Rivers Angels) Asisat Oshoala(Rivers Angels) and Uchechi Sunday of Rivers Angels.

•Striker Oshoala

•Striker Oshoala

Nigerians should not look forward to these young players but many of the strikers invited to the senior team are good enough to wreck Ivory Coast and their opponents in group A when the hostilities begin on Saturday.

Desire Oparanozie who plays her professional career in En Avent De Guingamp of France is deadly and dangerous in attack. Players like Francisca Ordega who plays for Pitea IFF of Sweden, Esther Sunday who is currently with FK Minsk of Belarus and Uchechi Sunday of Rivers Angels are threat to their opponents.

The longest serving Falcons player, Perpetua Nkwocha who almost features in Africa Women Championship with her experience will be a source of worries to hosts, Namibia and others in the championship. Nkwocha had adjudged most valuable player won  highest goal scorer in the previous editions. Her presence in the national team is a more boost for the team and she will use her wealth of experience to ensure that Nigeria win the title for the seven times.

Some of the coaches who spoke to P.M.NEWS Sports are of the opinion that Falcons are better prepared and good enough to rule Africa.

Former assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Joe Erico, tipped the country to excel in the forthcoming Africa Women Championship.

“They have been winning the title in the past and I expect them to win this year’s edition so that Nigeria can regain her lost glory after losing the titles in the last two previous editions and anything short winning the title will be a disappointment to soccer loving Nigerians,” he said.

In his own comment former Green Eagles player, Henry Nwosu expressed confidence in the ability of the female national team and urged them to take their opponents with all seriousness.

Former Super Eagles Coach Adeboye Onigbinde said Nigerians can only be happy  with Falcons if they win the title.He said time has come for the team to prove to Nigerians that truly they can conquer Africa again.