QUALIFIED: Black Queens book place to 2024 Women's Africa Cup of Nations
Ghana's Black Queens showed resilience and triumphed over adversity to earn their ticket to the 2024 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) in Morocco despite suffering a 0-1 loss to Namibia at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, December 5, 2023.
The Ghanaians secured a return to the flagship competition on a 3-2 aggregate victory, building on their 3-1 win in the first leg match of the final qualifying round at the Accra Sports Stadium last Friday.
Namibia's Nanamus Lydiana seized an early lead in the 15th minute, forcing the Black Queens to intensify their efforts for an equalising goal throughout the first half without success.
In the second half, Ghana's coach Nora Hauptle strategically shifted to a defensive game to safeguard their narrow lead, countering the determined Namibians from scoring even as the Ghanaian players persisted in their pursuit of an equaliser.
The coach introduced strategic substitutions to tighten the team's midfield, replacing Ernestina Abambilla, Vivian Adjei Konadu, and Grace Asantewaa with Evelyn Badu, Gifty Assifuah and Grace Acheampong, respectively.
Despite Namibia's Gladiators mounting a spirited effort, Ghana's superior quality and experience prevailed when it mattered most, securing a triumphant return to the grand stage of women's football after agonisingly missing out on qualification for the last tournament in 2022.
It will be the first time the Black Queens will be playing in the Women's AFCON since Ghana last hosted the event in 2018.
It was the first defeat suffered by the Ghanaians since Coach Hauptle took charge of the team in February.
Two time champions Equatorial Guinea failed to qualify for the tournament after they were defeated 2-1 by DR Congo in another game played yesterday.
The Congolese grabbed their place at the flagship women's competition 3-2 on aggregate after they played out to a 1-1 draw in the first-leg.
Meanwhile, Botswana secured their place at the tournament in Morocco after defeating Kenya 1-0 at the Botswana National Stadium in Gaborone.
The home side advanced 2-1 on aggregate after holding the Kenyan Starlets to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the final qualifier.
Tunisia booked their place at the tournament after holding Congo to a 1-1 draw in Brazzaville.
The North Africans sealed their place after winning the tie 6-3 on aggregate after the first leg ended 5-2 in Tunis few days ago.
Algeria secured qualification with a 1-0 win over Burundi yesterday to win the tie 6-1 on aggregate.
Last Monday, defending champions South Africa secured a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso in Pretoria to qualify 3-1 on aggregate after the two sides played to a 1-1 draw in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire in the first leg encounter.
Black Queens at WAFCON since 2004
In 2004, the Queens finished third in the competition which was held in South Africa but they improved on their lot two years later after they finished second in Nigeria.
However, in 2008 and 2010, the Black Queens were eliminated at the group stage and failed to qualify in 2012.
Although they made a return in 2014, they only made it to the group stage same as 2018 when Ghana hosted the competition.
2004 – Third position
2006 – Second position
2008 – Group stage
2010 – Group Stage
2012 – Failed to qualify
2014 – Group stage
2016 – Third position
2018 – Group stage
2020 – Cancelled
2022 – Failed to qualify
2024 – Qualified