Crunch matches to end 2016 AWC - Ghana, South Africa fight for bronze; Nigeria, Cameroun for final

Rosemary Ampem Black Queens
Rosemary Ampem Black Queens

After grueling semi-final games last Tuesday, there are still two crunch matches to be played as the final four teams battle for honours as the curtains are drawn on this year's Africa Women's Championship (AWC) in Cameroun this weekend.

With their failed bid to win the title for the first time, Ghana's Black Queens and South Africa's Bayana Bayana do battle for third place while hosts, Cameroun, the  continue their host and win campaign against defending champions, Nigeria.

Both matches are renewal of rivalry between the opposing teams with old scores to settle, just as last Tuesday's which saw Cameroun, and Nigeria win 1-0 against Ghana and South Africa, respectively.

This afternoon’s third place duel is an old fight dating back to 1998 revived.

With the chance to grab the ultimate eluding both of them, today's game is more for pride, just as it is for the two sides to break a jinx or establish dominance.

Apart from 2012 when the Queens didn't qualify for the AWC, the two have met at every other event, either at the group stages or the semi-finals, with Bayana winning only twice in 2000 and 2008. All the other results had gone the way of the Queens, something the South Africans are desperate to end.

With their good showing against Nigeria, the South Africans are upbeat about their chances and would want to continue from where they left off in the semi-finals.

For the Queens, winning the bronze from a competition they were hopeful of winning will be good consolation, but they will have to work for it.

Against Cameroun, they did not look hungry enough and unless they rediscover that urgency and take care of business, they could end up being disappointed.

In the grand final tomorrow, the defending champions Nigeria will need the extra factor to keep the title as they are challenged not just by Cameroun, but the entire Paul Biya-led nation.

Against Ghana last Tuesday, the Lionesses proved how determined they were, while their countrymen showed how a nation's unity of purpose, unflinching support and belief could motivate a side to victory.

Every space at the 60,000 Amadou Ahadjo Omnisport Stadium was filled with fans clad in the green, red and yellow colours and so was every venue good for public gathering or with television, and it worked.

Tomorrow's final will see more than what the Camerounians showed against Ghana and it will be up to the champions to prove their mettle.

Technically, it is a clash of two sides who have shown their strength in both attack and defence, the Falcons being the highest scoring side with 12 goals and a goal against, while Cameroun have six goals and yet to concede.

Will that end with this final clash? Can they reward their loyal fans by delivering the title for the first time?

Even without the title, the Lionesses are seeking victory against the Falcons only for the second time in their eight AWC meetings, and there couldn't have been a better stage and opportunity.