Paris 2024: Falcons, Lionesses in fierce battle in Douala

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Giants of African women football, Nigeria and Cameroon will be taking no prisoners when they clash in Douala on Friday for a place in the final round of the African qualifying series for this year’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament.
 
The Super Falcons, rated top in Africa and still walking with springs in their steps after reaching the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Down Under, exiting the finals without losing a match in regulation time, will remember at kick-off that the Indomitable Lionesses stopped their march to the London 2012 Olympics.
 
On their part, the Lionesses have grouses of their own, having been bumped by Nigeria in several major events including being denied the Women Africa Cup of Nations title in front of their own fans in 2016, and being shoved out at the quarter-finals of the last Women AFCON tournament in Morocco.
 
Coach Randy Waldrum has recalled fabulous defender Ashley Plumptre, now based in Saudi Arabia, and Halimatu Ayinde, Toni Payne and Christy Ucheibe will get to play together in the middle again after a stirring outing at the World Cup in Australia. There’s also the talented youngster Deborah Abiodun.
 
Nigeria’s goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie is one of the most respected safe hands globally, and in forwards Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade, Uchenna Kanu, Gift Monday and Esther Okoronkwo, the Super Falcons boast one of the most stellar attacking ensemble in women’s football.
 
Captain Ajibade scored two of the five goals that eliminated Ethiopia in the second round of the qualifiers, with Oshoala also scoring, and Okoronkwo and Kanu were on fire as Cape Verde were put to the sword in the final round of qualifiers for this year’s Women AFCON championship.
 
Veteran defender Osinachi Ohale is peerless on her day, and younger stallions Tosin Demehin and Rofiat Imuran have grown to become true fighters whenever the occasion called for such.
 
Cameroon, who edged Uganda 3-2 on aggregate in the second round, will be missing star player Ajara Njoya Nchout. Yet, it will be dangerous to underestimate what the Lionesses can come up with right in their own den.
 
Both teams will join the same flight to Nigeria’s administrative capital, Abuja for Monday’s return leg at the MKO Abiola National Stadium.

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