Banyana, Super Falcons add another chapter to rivalry

Linda Motlhalo of South Africa. | BackpagePix

Linda Motlhalo of South Africa. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 9, 2024


Smiso Msomi

The age-old rivalry between Banyana Banyana and the Super Falcons of Nigeria has been one of the fiercest in women’s football for decades.

A battle that began 29 years ago in the African Women’s Championship has been somewhat elevated as a contest among African women’s football royalty despite Banyana's limited trophy success.

Linda Motlhalo of South Africa. | BackpagePix

If the 68th-minute abandonment of the two nations’ meeting in Vosloorus due to crowd trouble was not an indication enough of a rivalry in the making, the back and forth between the two nations over the years has certainly made that point clear.

Although Banyana have restored the balance of power in the last decade, the Super Falcons dominated this fixture in the early years.

Their first meeting at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in 1995 was a huge indicator of the gap in quality between the two nations at the time.

The Super Falcons destroyed Banyana 11-2 over two legs on their way to winning the competition and their 7-1 victory in Johannesburg in the second leg stung the worst. That was Banyana’s maiden appearance in the illustrious competition after many years out in the cold.

Seven years later Nigeria were at it again, dishing out yet another heavy beating to Banyana at the Wafcon, this time the scoreline being 5-0.

After doing well to negotiate their way out of Group B, which boasted Cameroon, Angola and Zimbabwe as winners, Banyana set up a semi-final date with hosts the Super Falcons.

They were hammered at the Warri Township Stadium with Stella Mbachu’s second-half brace leading the rout and Olaitan Yusuf, Ifeanyi Chiejine and Perpetua Nkwocha also finding the back of the net.

It was only in 2012 that Banyana finally got one over the mighty Nigeria in a Wafcon tournament they had dominated over the years.

African football’s most capped footballer, Janine Van Wyk was the difference on the day as she scored the only goal of the match to see Banyana eliminate Nigeria at the semi-final stage of the competition.

Although Banyana went down to Nigeria in the first leg of their Olympic Games qualifier last week, coach Desiree Ellis’ women had dominated their last six encounters.

Banyana had lost just once in five games against their fiercest rivals, that loss coming via a penalty shoot-out at the 2018 Wafcon. More fireworks are expected in future battles to come between the two nations with today’s second leg of their Olympic qualifier already building up interest.