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2022 WAFCON: Nigeria and South Africa favorites in Monday’s semifinals but must remain vigilant

With tickets secured to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup it is now time to focus on becoming the champions of women’s football in Africa as the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations gets set to proceed with the semifinals on Monday. In the opening match a southern African rivalry kicks things off in Casablanca with Zambia taking on South Africa in a matchup that is up for the taking between the Copper Queens and Banyana Banyana. The later duel sees Nigeria, 11-time winners of the WAFCON out of the thirteen occasions it has taken place, looking to break the hearts of the host nation Morocco in the capital city of Rabat.

South Africa will be playing in Casablanca for the first time during the competition and with star forward Thembi Kgatlana out due to injury and an air of mystery around player availability due to Covid-19 (EDIT: Monday’s tests revealed no positive Covid tests in the South Africa team), it seems like a matchup that could go either way despite Banyana Banyana’s strong form. Zambia will be confident considering they delivered a 3-0 victory in a friendly match back in February but are without star forward Barbara Banda, who scored two of the three goals in the victory. The managers of both teams, Bruce Mwape of Zambia and Desiree Ellis of South Africa, indicated that victory is necessary and projected confidence ahead of the encounter.

The 2022 edition of the WAFCON has clearly shown that the gap is closing between the rest of the field and the dominant Super Falcons of Nigeria but they still remain the team to beat even without the superstar forward and winner of three of the last four African Women’s Footballer of the Year award Asisat Oshoala. An opening match 2-1 defeat to South Africa in the group stage appears to have served as a wake up call that the Super Falcons and American manager Randy Waldrum have responded well to. Morocco manager Reynald Petros acknowledged Nigeria’s dominance and status as the favorites but his team is feeling very confident and will have vocal home support behind them.

Read more on both matchups in the links below.

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