Super Falcons’ stars, Rita Chikwelu and Asisat Oshoala are leading the battle cry for the Nigerian female national team, ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Cameroon on Tuesday.
Chikwelu and Oshoala admitted that Cameroon will aim for a revenge of the loss they suffered at home against Nigeria in the 2016 final, but they expressed confidence of reaching the final.
Tuesday’s match will kick-off 4:30pm at Accra Sports Centre, as the 11th AWCON enters the crucial stage, with only the top three teams qualifying for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Chikwelu and Oshoala said their eyes are not only on the final, but also the trophy, hence their overwhelming determination to overcome The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Tuesday..
A 4-0 win over Zambia in Cape Coast on Wednesday zoomed the Falcons back into contention following an opening-day 0-1 loss to the Banyana Banyana of South Africa.
The 6-0 mauling of Equatorial Guinea on Saturday sent the Nigerians into another semi final stage, a stage they have never failed to reach in all 10 past editions of the competition.
Falcons striker, Desire Oparanozie, whose lone goal saw Cameroon bow two years ago, has netted twice in this tournament, same as all –action winger Francisca Ordega.
A capacity Stade Omnisports Ahmadu Ahidjo in Yaounde watched in sheer agony as Oparanozie scored a late goal to give Nigeria victory and the trophy two years ago.
Similarly, Oshoala is boasting a hat-trick against Equatorial Guinea, and goals by Rasheedat Ajibade, Rita Chikwelu and Amarachi Okoronkwo give them all confidence of beating Cameroon as well.
The winner on Tuesday earns an automatic ticket to next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, with the loser having an opportunity as the third placed team will also get a ticket.
The loser takes on the loser of the second semi final between South Africa and Mali (also on Tuesday evening, in Cape Coast) to determine who bags the third ticket to France.
The Lionesses bagged seven points from three matches to top Group A, beating Mali and Algeria and drawing with hosts Ghana in a match that saw the host team eliminated. Nigeria finished second in Group B with six points behind seven –pointer South Africa.
The Falcons arrived Accra on Sunday and trained at Priesec School in Legon, ahead of the official training at Accra Sports Stadium on Monday evening, from which Chikwelu said they will build their winning tactics.
Chikwelu said: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Playing Cameroon will bring the best out of us.
“It will not be easy and it should not be easy. We knew before the competition started that if we must retain the Cup, we would have to beat the best and strongest teams out here.”
On her part, Oshoala stated: “Our captain has said it all. We are here and we are very happy because our welfare is being attended to.
“We have received from the NFF the things we have asked for, and we believe they are ready to do even more if we also do more.
“We will work as a team. Together, we will achieve more. We all know that and will follow that and get to the final. Cameroon cannot stop us.
“Losing to South Africa in our first match is a big lesson we have taken to heart, but we have put it at the back of our minds having learnt from it.
“Any team can lose if it doesn’t give its all, or fails to come to the party. On Tuesday, we will come to the party strong and focused and we will do the needful.”