South Africa promises tough battle against Falcons

Gusau pleads for support
South Africans players have declared that tomorrow’s Paris 2024 Olympics qualifier against the Super Falcons in Abuja will be ‘a do or die’ affair.

The South Africans arrived in Abuja on Sunday ahead of Friday’s game.

Speaking with The Guardian on Tuesday, one of the players, Nomvula Kgoale, said: “Both of us missed the last Olympics and this game is going to be very tough.

“We’re ready because we know how important it is. It’s like an away league for us and as we’re starting with an away game, it’s going be an advantage for us. We’ll give our all to make sure we win.

“This is our chance as it’ll take another four years for either of us to be in the Olympics. When we win, we’ll go to the Olympics and if we didn’t, we’ll just have to go home and that’s not our plan.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria Football Federation General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, has implored Nigerians based in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs, as well as the neighbouring states, to troop out in large numbers to the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to support the Super Falcons against South Africa.

Nine-time African champions Nigeria and reigning African champions South Africa clash in a potentially-explosive affair in Nigeria’s magnificent sporting facility as from 5.00 p.m. tomorrow.

The return leg is due for Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld arena on Tuesday next week.

“The NFF is calling on Nigerians from all over the Federal Capital Territory and the neighbouring States, and indeed from all over Nigeria, to come out in their tens of thousands to cheer the Super Falcons to victory in the match against South Africa.

“This is a big match by all standards. We are specially appealing to our people to come en masse and support the Super Falcons. It is important for us to get a big win here in order to be in good stead before flying to South Africa. A handsome win here will bolster our ladies with the confidence and mentality to overcome in Pretoria,” Sanusi said.

Nigeria has not participated in the women’s Olympics football tournament since 2008, when the Falcons lost all three matches in the group phase in China.

Captain Rasheedat Ajibade yesterday said that the objective of Africa’s leading women’s team, the Falcons, remains the same right from the beginning of the qualifiers.

“From the time we played Ethiopia, we have been committed to seeing these qualification series through. Our objective has always been to win a slot to the Olympics. Most of us are yet to play in the Olympics and it is a big issue with us. We want to be there in Paris.

“There are a couple of issues the Super Falcons have to sort out with Banyana Banyana, really. However, that is not the motivation this time. The motivation is qualifying for the Olympics.”

Nigeria emerged Africa’s top team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand eight months ago, unbeaten in regulation time before exiting at the Round of 16 courtesy of penalty shootout defeat by England.

As at lunchtime yesterday, captain Ajibade and 20 other players were in the Super Falcons’ camp, and the team had a first training session at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Wednesday morning.

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