Nigeria is among the very few countries with all-encompassing interests as the draw ceremonies for this year’s Women Africa Cup of Nations and the qualification series for next year’s African Nations Championship hold in Morocco on Friday.
The Mohamed VI Complex in the North African kingdom has been scheduled to host the glamour event, which will bundle the 12 teams qualified for the 12th Women Africa Cup of Nations into three groups of four teams each and also divide the teams entered for the 7th African Nations Championship into pools for the qualification series.
Nine –time champions and Cup holders Nigeria have been picked as leaders of Group C, with host nation Morocco at the top of Group A and Cameroon heading Group B. The nine other countries qualified to participate are: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Botswana, Uganda and Zambia.
Nigeria won the Women AFCON titles in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2018. The 2020 competition was obliterated by the covid19 pandemic. Equatorial Guinea won the competition in 2008 and 2012, but have lost their venom and dazzle in the past few years and failed to reach this year’s finals.
All four semi finalists from the finals in Morocco, which is set for 2nd – 23rd July, will fly Africa’s flag at the 32-team FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
In the African Nations Championship, Nigeria are looking for a first triumph, after finishing as runners-up in Morocco four years ago and picking the bronze medals in South Africa in 2014. Next year’s finals will be staged in Algeria.
The African Nations Championship, exclusively for footballers plying their trade in their home country, started in 2009 and was hosted by Cote d’Ivoire, with Sudan hosting the second edition in 2011. The event was moved to even years subsequently, with South Africa hosting in 2014, Rwanda in 2016, Morocco in 2018 and Cameroon in 2020 (staged in 2021 as a result of the covid19 pandemic).