Olympic Games Qualifiers: Black Queens gear up for Benin showdown today
Ghana's Black Queens are gearing up to face their counterparts from Benin in the second round of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers at Stade de l'Amitie General Mathieu Kerekou in Cotonou on Friday, October 27, 2023.
Coach Nora Hauptle and her technical staff took the players through their first training last Tuesday and will undertake their last session this afternoon with the team aiming for a good result ahead of the return encounter next Tuesday, October 31.
The Queens qualified for this stage after thumping the She-Amavubis of Rwanda 12-0 on aggregate and come into the match from a position of strength, having won their last seven matches.
Since taking charge of the national team in January, the Swiss coach has guided the team to a string of impressive results.
Their journey began with a convincing 3-0 win against Benin, followed by back-to-back victories over Senegal (3-0, 1-0), and dominant performances against Guinea (3-0, 4-0) before their resounding 12-0 aggregate victory over Rwanda in the two-leg encounter.
Coach Hauptle will have the luxury of selecting from a full roster of top players, including the return of midfielder, Azumah Bugre, from the Swedish side, IK Norrkoping, who missed the team's last match due to injury.
Another notable addition is Blessing Shine Agbomadzi, a member of the reigning African Champions League winners AS FAR, who joins the squad following a stellar season in Morocco.
The team's depth and talent pool are further enriched by the late call-up of Ampem Darkoa Ladies player, Philomena Abakah. Her inclusion increases the number of home-based players in the camp to five, joining Mary Amponsah, Stella Nyamekye, Kerrie McCarthy, and Adama Alhassan.
Abakah returned to the Ghanaian champions after a brief spell with Tanzania's Simba Queens, and she showcased her prowess for Ampem Darkoa Ladies in the recent Women’s Premier Super Cup in Kyebi.
Meanwhile, referee Chouchane Asma will handle tomorrow's clash in Cotonou with assistance from compatriots, Afine Houda (Assistant 1), Ouertatani Nesrine (Assistant 2) with Ajbouni Emna as the Fourth Official.
There are eight qualifiers being played between October 25 - 31, with the winners moving to the penultimate round of four matches with the final stage set for April 2024 to decide Africa's two spots for the Paris Olympics.