By MONICA IHEAKAM
War of words is raging between reigning champions, Super Falcons of Nigeria and perennial underachievers, Bayana, Bayana of South Africa, as they get set to lock horns in the epic semi-final match today at the ongoing African Women Championship (AWC) in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
While the Nigerian girls are confident they will again punish the South African en route winning a seventh AWC crown, their opponents are encouraged by the back-to-back draws they managed during friendly matches played earlier this year to aid them re-write history by recording their first ever victory against high-flying Falcons.
Super Falcons’ winger, Stella Mbachu is confident the South African girls will pose no threat to Nigeria’s 7th title aspirations as they know how to punish them. “Banyana Banyana cannot stop us, we know them too well and we know how to beat them. We are ready to do same to them again here,” said the experienced winger, who was on target in the 3–1 win over Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday.
Adding credence to Mbachu’s declarations, Super Falcons Chief coach, Kadiri Ikhana says: “We will go past South Africa to the final.” Veteran Banyana midfielder, Portia Modise, who scored in the international friendly played in Rustenburg on June 3, said that Nigeria fielded her full strength team during the friendly matches and believes Banyana can break the mental block to record their first-ever win over the Super Falcons.
“The players are so keen to get the win over Nigeria and give South African football fans lots to be proud of as the win will allow our team to make the final which is one step further than what we achieved at the CAF 2010 African Women Championship,” she said. Bayana Bayana’s top scorer in the tournament, Mgcoyi believes they can shock the reigning champions by playing as a team and making full use of their chances.
“We’ve never beaten Nigeria, the best we have done has been a draw but we are determined to change this.” For the South African Head Coach, Joseph Mkhonza, it is operation stop Nigeria. “The stage is set for an epic battle between the two sides and the power of African women’s football is clear, with all four of the top ranked teams on the continent in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and South Africa having made the semi-finals.
The South African girls are yet to beat the Super Falcons who are looking forward to continuing their dominance in Bata this afternoon to set up a final most likely against hosts, Equatorial Guinea, who battle Cameroon in the other semi-final. The first time both nations met was in 1995, when Falcons triumphed 11–2 on aggregate with 4–1 and 7–1 wins in both legs. N
igeria also beat them in final of 2000 AWC 2–0 and also defeated the South Africans 2–1 in the 2010 edition of the competition.