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Nigeria's Super Falcons lie in wait for ring-rusty Banyana Banyana

FILE - Banyana Banyana players in training. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

FILE - Banyana Banyana players in training. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Jun 20, 2022

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Cape Town — Teams like Morocco, Cameroon, Togo, Senegal and Zambia have stolen a march on Banyana Banyana by playing several friendlies ahead of the start of the TotalEnergies Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) on Saturday, July 2.

Banyana Banyana have been in camp since last week whereas teams have been playing several friendlies. Hosts Morocco have been the most active with two friendlies in the last nine days. Morocco's 'Atlas Lionesses’ handed Congo a 7-0 thrashing and followed that up with a draw against Zambia a few days later.

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On Wednesday, hosts Morocco will play another friendly against Côte d'Ivoire

Another two Morocco-bound teams Cameroon and Senegal played back-to-back friendlies in the space of four days. The first match ended in a draw and 'Indomitable Lionesses' ran out slender 1-0 winners in the second clash.

Cameroon will be travelling North for an international friendly against France on Friday. Senegal have lined up two more friendlies against Guinea Bissau on Wednesday and next week will play Tunisia.

The head coach of the Cameroon women's national team Gabriel Zabo said the warm-up matches bring the best out of the players.

"We wanted to see all our qualities in the warm-up games," said Zabo. "We are keen on assembling a good group of players these matches provide an opportunity to prepare the players mentally and tactically. In the end, we will assemble a good squad for the AWCON."

Senegal's coach Mame Moussa Cissé said warm-up games were vitally important.

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"These two games were aimed at enhancing our preparations," said Cissé. "There are so many lessons. I am satisfied with my team. We rotated the squad and have noted the potentials of most of our players."

Togo's national women's team the Ladies Sparrowhawks had an outing against Ghanaian league champions Ampem Darkoa Ladies, who ran out comprehensive 3-0 winners.

Banyana last played in mid-April when they were thumped 5-1 by the Netherlands' national team Oranje Vrouwen at the Johan Cruijff Arena, in Amsterdam.

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Banyana's opening match will be against champions Nigeria and their star player, the Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala said the team was looking beyond Group C rivals, South Africa.

"I don’t think the opening game is a decider of the tournament," said Oshoala. "By the way, it is not only South Africa we will be facing. It's a whole tournament.

"We are not going to be talking tough about just one team (South Africa). They are a very strong team, a very competitive one as well.

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"Maybe the mindset of our team and theirs may not be the same, but we have the likes of Cameroon, Morroco and other great teams in Africa to face.

"We are just basically focused on working on ourselves and we are not so bothered about playing South Africa. When we get to the phase of playing them, we will cross it.

"For me, the main goal is to qualify for the 2023 Women's World Cup, because, at the end of the day, that is all that matters and every other thing coming after or with it is just secondary. The primary aim is to qualify, of course, we want to win WAFCON but the main goal is to qualify for the World Cup."

The 2018 runners-up Banyana Banyana will play Nigeria at the Prince Moulay Hassan Stadium in Rabat on Monday, July 4. Botswana and Burundi are the other two Group C teams.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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