Queens vow to halt Nigeria

Author: Rosalind K. Amoh, Limbe, Cameroun
Black Queens

Fierce rivals in Africa women's football, Ghana and Nigeria, will have their paths cross for the umpteenth time after they both seek early qualification to the semi-finals of the ongoing Africa Women's Championship in Cameroun.

Having both won their opening games to claim the three points, both are keen to win again and be the first to progress to the next round, setting the tone for yet another intense contest between these West African neighbours.

Last Sunday, Nigeria's Super Falcons, the defending champions, began their title defense with a 6-0 win against Mali, the same day Ghana's Black Queens also beat Kenya 3-1, easily making them the favourites to qualify from the group.

While the opening matches' results and the previous head to head records make Nigeria the favourites, the Black Queens are adamant that this match will be different given the stakes.

"We may not have scored many goals like Nigeria, but we want to top our group and be the first to qualify and that will be our mission against Nigeria on Wednesday," Coach Yussif Basigi told the Graphic Sports.

Though Yussif Basigi has been in charge of the Queens, he is yet to encounter the rivalry between the two sides and, therefore, insists it is just like any other game "Yes, we are aware of the rivalry, but for us, our focus is on the now and not the past.

"They denied us three titles when we met in the finals in the past, but we have also beaten them twice at the group stages, so if that is anything to go by, then, they are under pressure to improve that group record," Coach Basigi said.

Interestingly, he will come up against one person who knows and understands the rivalry too well - Florence Omagbemi, the player who led the Falcons to lift their first AWC title in Abeokuta in 1998 and went on to win two more titles before retiring.

Now in charge as the coach, Ms Omagbemi feels the pressure to keep the momentum, having started in such a whirlwind manner.

It is likely the Falcons will maintain the starting line-up that included Arsenal striker Asisat Oshoala, the best player at the 2014 event, who has already scored four goals in this competition.

Coach Basigi is also likely to maintain his starting line-up against Kenya, but it is possible he will start the more experienced Rosemary Ampem ahead of Regina Antwi.

Kenya and Mali will take their turn to fight for their first three points in the second game in today's Group B matches.