Home Sport Massive quarter-finals await at Wafcon 2022

Massive quarter-finals await at Wafcon 2022

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The hosts have been perfect in the tournament so far, grinding their way through their Group A matches and amassing nine points to top the table and book a place in the quarter-finals.

Vivian Obianujuwan Ikechukwu of Nigeria is challenged by Rachelle Bukuru of Burundi during the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations game at Stade Prince Moulay Al Hassan in Rabat
Vivian Obianujuwan Ikechukwu of Nigeria is challenged by Rachelle Bukuru of Burundi during the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations game at Stade Prince Moulay Al Hassan in Rabat, Morocco on 10 July 2022. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Cape Town – The group stages are done and dusted. Eight teams (the top two teams from each of the three groups, and the two best-placed teams finishing third) have progressed to the quarter-finals of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) in Morocco, as we reach the business end of the tournament.

Morocco vs Botswana

The hosts have been perfect in the tournament so far, grinding their way through their Group A matches and amassing nine points, scoring five goals and conceding just once, to top the table and book a place in the quarter-finals.

Captain Ghizlane Chebbak is the current leading goal scorer at the tournament with three goals – all from set-pieces – two penalties and a free-kick that have elevated the Atlas Lionesses as one of the title contenders in this tournament. She is leading by example.

Against Botswana, Chebbak and Morocco will be up against one of the fastest teams at the tournament. The Mares pride themselves in counter-attacks with the incredible Refilwe Tholakele at the centre of their attacks and she will be hoping to bring her A-game to the hosts on Wednesday at the Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat.

Botswana head coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutkwisang has been spoken widely about and she likes coming up against big coaches and in this case, they don’t come much bigger than Reynald Pedros – a two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner with Olympique Lyon.

This tactical battle is one to look out for in this fixture.

Cameroon vs Nigeria

As far as football rivalries are concerned, this is one of the richest on the continent and this cuts across both women’s and men’s categories.

Ahead of this quarter-final match-up which is a repeat of the 2016 final in Yaounde, this derby is expected to produce fireworks. Both are physical and athletic teams that will need to dig deep to progress to the next level.

Nigeria come into this one as the favourites to win, courtesy of their pedigree at this tournament – having won nine titles and having also scored the most tournament goals so far – seven to be exact.

On the other hand, Cameroon started slowly with a goalless draw against Zambia, but have since found their feet in the tournament and can now be taken seriously as title contenders.

This one is a must-watch!

Zambia vs Senegal

Quarter-final first-timers, Zambia and Senegal, have never gone past the group stages at the Wafcon, but at this year’s edition their hard work from many years of building and rebuilding has finally paid off.

With places at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand guaranteed for the semi-finalists, a lot is at stake for both teams.

Captain Grace Chanda has been in fine form scoring a brace so far at the tournament, but against Senegal, the Copper Queens face one of the best defences in the tournament. The Teranga Lionesses have only conceded once so far – a penalty scored by Morocco’s Ghizlane Chebbak.

Zambia too have let in just one goal and will be looking to continue with their impressive set-up at the back when they face the West Africans.

This is expected to be a very fast-paced game, as both teams like to counter-attack and fall back when they lose the ball.

South Africa vs Tunisia

The 2018 finalists South Africa come into this one as one of two sides that won all their group stage games, amassing nine points.

Even without poster girl Thembi Kgatlana, who is out of the tournament due to injury, Banyana Banyana have enough firepower to overcome Tunisia.

Captain Refiloe Jane, Linda Motlhalo and Andile Dlamini have been some of the standout players for Desiree Ellis’ side, bringing experience and exposure into the team set-up and should worry the North Africans.

However, the Carthage Eagles who have found solace in the individual brilliance of Mariem Houji will be out for blood. They are playing at the Wafcon for only the second time and can smell a place at the World Cup. This is a do-or-die match-up for them as they seek to write history.

The contrast in styles of play will be interesting to look out for on Thursday.

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