Sports

Nigeria vs South Africa: Preview, team news as Super Falcons battle Banyana for Paris Olympics ticket

Nigeria’s Super Falcons will host South Africa at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja on Friday in the first leg of the final qualifying playoff for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Soccernet.ng reports.

It is a battle between two of the best national female sides on the continent.

The Super Falcons dominated women’s football for most of the last four decades, winning nine of 11 African Championships and appearing at every edition of the World Cup.

However, the baton appears to be changing hands, as South Africa have overtaken Ghana and Cameroon to become Nigeria’s biggest rivals.

The South Africans lost the 2018 WAFCON on penalties but returned stronger to claim the title for the first time in 2022.

The Banyana Banyana impressively reached the knockout round of the World Cup last year and aim to qualify for the Olympics for the third time in the last four editions.

They have become a tougher nut to crack under head coach Desiree Ellis, with the 61-year-old tactician setting the team up to get the best out of star forward, Thembi Kgatlana.

The 27-year-old Racing Louisville striker has 13 goals in 34 games for South Africa and is a key reason why the Banyana have lost none of their last eight games.

That excellent run includes six victories and two draws, which will be why they will be full of confidence by the time the referee blasts the kickoff whistle.

Although in Nigeria, South Africa will meet a team that can match them power for power, talent for talent, and desire for desire.

Save for a penalty shootout loss to England at the World Cup, the Super Falcons have remained unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Nigeria vs South Africa
Nigeria vs South Africa

During that brilliant run, Nigeria kept clean sheets against Canada, Republic of Ireland, England, and Cameroon (twice) and will fancy their chances of shutting out the South Africans on Friday.

Head-to-head

Nigeria hold the advantage in previous fixtures against South Africa, with the Super Falcons winning six, drawing two, and losing four of the 12 encounters between the two.

However, recent momentum is in favour of the Banyana Banyana. The South Africans have won each of the last three matches that have been decided in regulation time against Nigeria.

They claimed a 2-1 win in the group stages of the 2022 WAFCON after recording a 4-2 victory in Lagos in the 2021 Aisha Buhari Cup – the Super Falcons’ biggest-ever defeat to the Banyana.

nigeria south africa abc 2

Team news

South Africa arrived in Nigeria to begin preparations a day before the Super Falcons opened camp in Abuja on Tuesday.

Coach Ellis landed with 17 home-based players, expecting their foreign-based professionals to join them in the Federal Capital Territory.

Nigeria’s camp has been equally buzzing with the trio of Atletico Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade, veteran goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi, and youngster Jumoke Alani joined by 15 others.

Bay FC star Asisat Oshoala is expected to team up with her colleagues on Thursday and may not start the game.

Head coach Randy Waldrum will not worry about where goals will come from, however, with Gift Monday, Rinsola Babajide, Ifeoma Onumonu, and Jennifer Echegini available.

Predicted lineup

Nigeria starting eleven (4-3-3):
Nnadozie; Alozie, Ohale, Oladipo, Ogbonna; Abiodun, Ucheibe, Payne; Ajibade, Kanu, Echegini.

South Africa starting eleven (4-2-3-1):
Swart; Ramalepe, Mbane, Matlou, Dhlamini; Moodaly, Gamede; Magaia, Seoposenwe, Motlhalo; Kgatlana.

Match details

Competition: Women’s Olympic Qualifying CAF
Match: Nigeria vs South Africa
Venue: MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja
Date: Friday, 5 April 2024
Kickoff time: 5 pm (Nigerian time)