Morocco threaten Nigeria territory as knockout stage kicks off

Attacking Mindset. Crested Cranes Fauziah Najjemba drives forward against Morocco on Tuesday night. Uganda had their own fair share of chances to score more than once but were never able to convert. PHOTO/AWCON MEDIA

What you need to know:

  • For the losers, there could be tears even though the consolation is that they will have another bite of the cherry in the repechage on Sunday to make it to the inter-confederation playoffs due February next year in New Zealand and Australia.

It is always easy for coaches and players to claim that every game is a final.

But the knockout phase of the ongoing Women Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) will serve just more than just the trophy.

The quarterfinals come with the worthy prize of making it to the World Cup. So there will definitely be huge celebrations for the four sides that come top of their encounters as they will take the automatic slots to the 2023 Women World Cup.

For the losers, there could be tears even though the consolation is that they will have another bite of the cherry in the repechage on Sunday to make it to the inter-confederation playoffs due February next year in New Zealand and Australia.

For Wafcon hosts Morocco, every game thus far has been treated with the kind of concentration needed for surgical procedures.

The expectations from the home crowd are well documented and their federation are also halfway through a four-year project to conquer women’s football on the continent.

This prompted them to hire former Lyon coach Reynald Pedros, who has won each of the women’s Uefa Champions League and French league twice. There is still time for the project but the Moroccans will fancy a dream of winning the continental trophy at home.

Pedros has relied on the set-piece deliveries of captain Ghizlane Chebbak to get this far but will need more tonight against Botswana if their dream to emulate Equatorial Guinea as the only country to win Wafcon bar Nigeria, over the last 13 editions, is to come to fruition.

Wafcon debutants Botswana are under no pressure and their coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang has declared their continuing run “an adventure”. They played on the front foot in their last group match against one of the continental giants South Africa and could employ the same tactics against Morocco tonight.

Zambia talking tough

Zambia coach Bruce Mwape believes such tensions like qualifying for the World Cup bring out the best of his Copper Queens who have gained good exposure over the years – including playing at the Olympics last year at the expense of Cameroon.Zambia showed character again to top their Wafcon group, which included Cameroon, even in the absence of their star striker Barbara Banda. Banda had been ruled out of the tournament for ‘being manly’ before Fifa intervened to reinstate her in the Zambia squad ahead of quarters.


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