The Women’s Africa Cup of Nations is at its final stages, with all four semi-finalists also booking their ticket for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, despite that weight off their shoulders, they now play for a spot in Friday’s AFCON final.
Zambia (13/103) v South Africa (3/58)
*(FIFA ranking among CAF nations/overall FIFA ranking)
The Copper Queens have been somewhat the surprise package at this year’s tournament, doing wonders without their star player Barbra Banda. They are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition (103) but are also still unbeaten and have just conceded twice. They’ve shown in the previous game against Senegal, when they advanced on penalties, that they cannot be underestimated.
Banyana, meanwhile, beat Tunisia 1-0 to book their much-celebrated second appearance at the FIFA World Cup. But Desiree Ellis and her team want more! They’ve reached the semi-finals of the Women’s AFCON for an eighth successive edition, but are yet to lift the trophy. This year they seem to have a better chance than ever before, despite losing their star player Thembi Kgatlana earlier in the tournament. They’ve won all of their four games and also only conceded twice.
Banyana often look pleasing on the eye but remain wasteful in front of goal. Should they keep their nerves, they should be able to reach their sixth WAFCON final.
Morocco (8/77) v Nigeria (1/39)
The second match could also be seen as a final before the final as hosts Morocco take on record champions Nigeria. For a team that had never reached the knockout stages of the competition, Morocco is surely defeating the odds. The 2022 edition is only their third WAFCON participation and they are the only team apart from South Africa to win all their games so far.
However, should they beat record champions Nigeria it would still be a massive shock for many experts. The Super Falcons started with a loss to Banyana and also lost superstar Asiasat Oshoala to a long-term injury. However, they’ve managed to recover and collected three wins – all without conceding – since their opening day defeat to Banyana.
Both Morocco and Nigeria have also only conceded twice so far, which could be seen as a sign of another tight game. Nigeria’s tournament experience – they’ve reached and won the final in 11 out of 13 editions – should swing the momentum in favour of the Super Falcons should they be able to cope with the noise the 53 000 home fans will create inside the Stade Prince Moulay Abdallah (Rabat).
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