Tomorrow (Wednesday, August 28) in far away Bilda near Algiers, the capital city of Algeria, the national senior women’s football team of Algeria will host their Nigerian counterparts in the first leg second round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament Africa qualifier match.
The Algeria Football Federation has scheduled the match for the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida (outside Algiers), to kick off at 7pm Algeria time (same time as in Nigeria) while Nigeria Football Federation NFF (NFF) has scheduled the return for Tuesday, September 3 at Agege stadium, Lagos.
The world football ruling body FIFA has appointed Malian Teneba Bagayoko as the referee with her compatriots Mariam Coulibaly (assistant referee 1) and Djeneba Dembélé (assistant referee 2) also on duty.
The fourth official will be Dorsaf Ganouati from Tunisia while Mana Dzodope from Togo will serve as referee assessor and Oumou Kane from Mauritania will be the match commissioner.
Already the Nine-time African champions, Nigeria arrived Algeria last Sunday with a 25-man delegation made up of 18 players, technical crew, backroom staff and administrative officials and the team has acclimatized for a few days ahead of the first leg.
But the Super Falcons Head Coach, Thomas Dennerby will prosecute the encounter without the armada of Nigerian foreign-based professional players whose arrival to the camp has been delayed by their involvements in club duties just as first choice goalkeeper; Chiamaka Nnadozie; forward Cynthia Aku and defender, Joy Duru are also with the Nigeria’s U-20 squad at the 12th African Games in Morocco.
It is expected that these players will be available in Lagos as the FIFA Football Window for women would have commenced on August 28 and close on September 6
However, this scenario has presented an opportunity for a new set of players to break into the main team of Super Falcons to replace some of the older players who may call it quits soon with the national team duties.
And the Swedish tactician may not have to wait for too long to see what each of the 18 players in his roaster in Algeria will offer the team before he will make up his mind either to recall some of his regulars or opt for the new kids on the block.
Luckily, Nigeria is blessed with good players that many of them who could not get a look in from the national teams’ selectors decided to migrate to other countries to practice their trade.
Nigeria’s pedigree in women’s football has gone beyond Africa and from inception Nigeria has dominated the continent no matter the squad selected to play at any time and in whatever category.
The Algerians should underrate the Super Falcons at their peril as this team is equally loaded with experience and youthfulness. In the 18-man team are France 2019Women’s World Cup stars and AWCON Ghana 2018 winners as well as FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women’s World Cup stars too.
With an equally experienced coach like Dennerby who had taken his native country Sweden and Nigeria to FIFA Women’s World Cup finals and Olympic Games respectively many times, he will not disappoint in Algeria.
18 FALCONS IN ALGERIA FOR OLYMPICS QUALIFIER
Goalkeepers: Christy Ohiaeriaku; Tochukwu Oluehi
Defenders: Ugochi Emenayo; Glory Ogbonna; Margaret Etim; Maryam Ibrahim; Abidemi Ibe; Blessing Edoho; Ihuoma Onyebuchi
Midfielders: Osarenoma Igbinovia; Amarachi Okoronkwo; Regina Otu; Cecilia Nku
Forwards: Alice Ogebe; Lola Philips; Adejoke Ejalonibu; Joy Eke; Rafiat Sule.
By Harry Awurumibe, is Africa’s revered women’s football journalist