In the wake of a two legged second round Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier filled with drama, intrigue and of course upsets, seven teams have emerged to join hosts Cameroon in the battle for supremacy at the 10th edition of the most prestigious women football tournament on the continent from 19th November – 3rd December this year.
Here they are:
Nigeria (Defending Champions)
This means every region in Africa are represented; from the North (Egypt) to the West (Nigeria, Ghana), to the East (Kenya) and South (South Africa and Zimbabwe). Not forgetting the central region that has Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
Defending Champions, the Super Falcons of Nigeria comfortably secured their place in Cameroon after seeing off the Teranga Lionesses of Senegal 2-0 in Abuja on Tuesday (April 12).
Following a 1-1 draw in Dakar last week Friday, midfielders Rita Chikwelu and Osarenoma Igbinovia scored on either half as the Falcons soared to a 3-1 aggregate win over their Senegalese counterparts.
The Florence Omagbemi led Falcons, could have scored more with Senegal barely threatening, but they fluffed lots of chances including a penalty miss from Asisat Oshoala who looked out of sorts. Desire Oparanozie had to start from the bench as a result of the injury she sustained in the first leg.
Nonetheless, Nigeria are through to their tenth AWCON (formerly AWC), having previously qualified in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and as usual, they have got their eyes on the prize.
Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea were the first two teams (apart from hosts Cameroon) to book their tickets considering they wrapped up their qualification on Sunday (April 10).
The Warriors of Zimbabwe were officially the first team to progress after their 3-2 victory over Zambia away in Lusaka sealed a 4-2 aggregate triumph and a return to Africa’s flagship women’s tourney for the first time since 2004.
Let’s not forget that the Warriors are also due to represent the continent at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June alongside neighbours South Africa.
Two-time winners Equatorial Guinea also makes a return to the AWCON after sitting out the last edition two years ago.
They confirmed their place after goals from Jade Boho Sayo and Adriana Costa ensured a 2-1 win over Mali in Malabo, and a 3-2 aggregate victory.
For Egypt, they return after 18 long years, at the expense of Cote d’Ivoire via away goals after a 2-2 tie on aggregate, in spite of 2-1 second leg loss.
It seemed like the first half strikes from Rebecca Elloh and Ines Tia N’rehy had assured ‘Les Elephantes’ a ticket in Abidjan, but Nevein Gamal scored for the Lady Pharaohs four minutes from time to break the hearts of the Ivorians.
This was an upset served hot and spicy looking back at the exploits of Cote d’Ivoire at the 2014 AWCON in Namibia, where they finished third to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time.
The last time Egypt were at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations was in 1998 in Nigeria.
There is also a special mention of Kenya, who have qualified for the first time in their history.
After upsetting Algeria 2-2 away from home, they made sure they completed the job in front of their home fans with a 1-1 draw that confirmed their place in Cameroon 2016.
All the results at a glance
Sunday, 10 April 2016
Equatorial Guinea 2-1 Mali (1-1)
Zambia 2-3 Zimbabwe (0-1)
Monday, 11 April 2016
Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 Egypt (0-1)
Tuesday, 12 April 2016
Kenya 1-1 Algeria (2-2)
Nigeria 2-0 Senegal (1-1)
Ghana 4-0 Tunisia (2-1)
South Africa 3-0 Botswana (2-0)