The race for semi-final tickets in Group B of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations is going down to the wire and the Super Falcons of Nigeria are keen not to be left behind.
Ahead of the final set of group games on Saturday, the trio of South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria have a chance of sneaking through into the last four; hence a nervy finish is expected on Saturday.
For some, Nigeria seems to have an ‘easier’ route as they will be facing the whipping girls of the group, Equatorial Guinea.
The Equatorial Guineans were beaten 5-0 by Zambia and 7-1 by South Africa hence Nigeria need to match their rivals with a huge win also to brighten their chances of pulling through to the semifinal.
Ahead of the Super Falcons’ crucial match, Head Coach Thomas Dennerby has assured that his girls will do everything possible to progress.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference held at the Cape Coast stadium, Mr Dennerby said the team will work as they have worked from the beginning.
“We are not making any changes. We work as we have done from the beginning. We will try our best to secure the position as one of the two teams in Group B that will qualify for the semi-finals.”
Responding to a question on what he intends to do differently against Equatorial Guinea who have also won two Women Africa Cup of Nations titles, he said: “It is to stay by our plan. Don’t get stressed because if the players feel they have a stressed coach it will probably affect the players. So, keep on walking and following the plan.
“Like we said in the first game when we lost to South Africa that we don’t do any changes and we have trust in what we are doing and we keep on doing it better and better each day. We also said after the first game that we will probably improve as the tournament went on and I think that is what is going to happen. The Falcons will get better. I hope we have our best performance so far tomorrow and I hope we keep improving ahead of the semi finals.”
The Swede said he was happy the team created a lot of chances against Zambia, noting that they will keep working on improving the conversion rate.
“First of all, I am very happy that they created a lot of good chances. That is the first step and to be honest, everybody that saw the game is aware that we probably should have scored more goals. So, we just have to find good technique to score more goals.”
On her part, Midfielder Ngozi Okobi has said the team will not be under any kind of pressure when they play Equatorial Guinea on Saturday by 5.pm.
Speaking to thenff.com, Okobi said she has full confidence in her teammates.
“We are not under any kind of pressure because I believe in the girls we have in the team. Both young and old, we have experienced and younger players who can actually play good football. I don’t think anyone is scared about Equatorial Guinea because the Zambians and South Africans have made us understand that football is actually easy when you bring out your best”.
Pride At Stake
In his own submission, Jean-Paul Mpila Head Coach, Equatorial Guinea said even if they are out, they would give their best against Nigeria.
He said: “I can boldly say we out of the tournament but concerning tomorrow’s fixture against Nigeria, we are going to honour it. As I always say we never give until the last blast of the whistle so we are preparing for the match.
“My objective for this team is to secure the future. You have seen how the team performed in this tournament compared to the previous, they are different.
“At first we were one of the forces in Africa but that’s not the case at the moment so my main aim for this team is to bring back the glory days.”
He added: “Competition remains competition. I have much respect for Nigeria because they are a great football nation. No coach will go into a match expecting defeat so I accept to go onto the field and just give in for Nigeria to win the game. If they win, it is a plus for them.”
Africa will be represented at the World Cup by the top three teams from AWCON 2108.
Already Cameroon and Mali are through to the semifinals with hosts, Ghana and Algeria sent packing after Friday’s games.
With the likelihood of having three teams finishing with six points in Group B, this is what the rule book says.
Teams are ranked according to points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), and if tied on points, the following tie-breaking criteria are applied, in the order given, to determine the rankings:
· Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
· Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
· Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
· If more than two teams are tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams;
· Goal difference in all group matches;
· Goals scored in all group matches;
· Drawing of lots.
Photos courtesy: cafonline.com
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