This time last year, Nigeria finished the Women’s West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Cup at the semi-final stage, after they were beaten by Ghana. This time around, coach Thomas Dennerby assured us things would be different. And he was right. The Super Falcons are going to the WAFU Cup final.
Nigeria reached the semi-final stage in style, winning the Group B phase and scoring 22 goals in total. After a “sluggish” 5:1 win against Burkina Faso, the Falcons decimated the Niger Republic with a record 15:0 victory. And then, in their last group match, they easily overcame Mali with a 2:0 victory. Mali themselves managed to finish second and qualify for the semi-finals.
After the match, coach Dennerby said that he was slightly disappointed with how the game and that he expected his players to pick up their game in the semi-final. He thought they were a little lazy with the ball and lacked concentration. And to win the semi-final, they would have to play 100% in all departments.
Nigeria would face their neighbours Ghana in the first semi-final while Mali would play against the host country of Ivory Coast in the second semi-final encounter. Both games were expected to be much tighter than the group stage games.
This proved to be true. Even though the Super Falcons had much more of the ball and were dominating the game, they couldn’t break down the Ghana defence. Poor finishing from the attackers didn’t help the proceedings.
With both teams denying one another, the match finished a boring 0:0 draw. This meant that the encounter would be decided after a penalty shootout. After four rounds Nigeria came out on top winning the shootout 4:2 and therefore reaching the final of the WAFU Cup. This win also avenges their loss in the previous year.
In the other semi-final clash, Ivory Coast beat Mali 2:1 to reach the final of the competition.
The FINAL game is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 18th at Abidjan. The host country Ivory Coast will no doubt have a lot of support, but the Super Falcons will be extra confident that they can regain the form from the group stage and beat them.
Winning this competition would serve as a great confidence booster ahead of the Women’s World Cup in France which start on June 7th and will last for a month. Nigeria is in a group with Norway, Korea and the hosts France.
For the best odds on the final match and the World Cup, check out Betway.