Head Coach Bankole Olowookere has invited 25 players to the camp of the U17 Girls’ National Team ahead of this month’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 third round qualifier fixture against Egypt.
The first leg is on 17 April in Abuja with the second leg on 30 April in Egypt. The
Flamingos overcame Congo 8:0 on aggregate in the previous round.
I am rooting for Bankole’s damsels to down Egypt in this round of qualifiers.
All of the teenagers have done well thus far and should successfully navigate the Egyptian Nile to the next round where either South Africa or Ethiopia lie in wait.
My money is on South Africa to edge that tie which will make a Nigeria vs South Africa finale a mouth watering prospect. South Africa have become one of Nigeria’s bitter rivals in Africa across the men and women’s games. Only just last year the Bayana Bayanas took the Super Falcons to the cleaners in the Aisha Buhari Cup with a 4:2 drubbing in front of stunned home Nigeria fans.
It will be up to the Flamingos to exert revenge on behalf of thier elder sisters if indeed they meet South Africa in the next round (after hopefully defeating Egypt).
Bankole’s girls are not new to planning ahead, though. When preparing for the second leg encounter against Congo, the Yoruba gaffer said he and he girls already had one eye on the next round. I actually frowned at that statement.
I think the coach and his girls should always be fully focused on the task at hand rather than thinking of a next round that they conceivable might not even qualify for.
Strangest things have happened in football and this sort mentality is arrogant and somewhat disrespectful to the immediate opponents.
In this semi-final stage, Egypt should offer minimal resistance as their women’s football is still evolving and also reeling from recent misogynistic scandals.
Sadly Egypt is a relatively conservative society where a section of the populace is opposed to women participating in sports that tend to be associated with men.
Last year, their under-20 women’s team was mocked on social media in a game against Lebanon by Egyptians themselves who poked fun on the fact that “girls were playing boys’ game”.
In a country that produced the legendary Mohammed Salah, women’s football in Egypt across age range is said to be hanging by a thread. Some observers said there is inadequate support from the Egyptian Football Association for women’s football.
Without being horrible, I don’t expect such an underdeveloped Egyptian side (that is still struggling to gain universal acceptance from its own fan base) to pose much problem to Bankole and his fabulous Flamingos.
However, with something to prove to some misguided male Egyptians, it might even spur the Egyptian Under-17 ladies on to be more determined to defeat the more illustrious Nigeria.
This might then make the encounter across two legs more competitive than expected.
So, contrary to speculation, it might end up being an open encounter that could swing either way.
If that will be the case, then I can’t wait!
Goalkeepers: Faith Omilana (Honey Badgers); Linda Jiwuaku (Confluence Queens); Jessica Chikamso (Rivers Angels); Doris Ohia (Naija Ratels) Defenders: Blessing Sunday (Edo Queens); Comfort Folorunsho (Delta Queens); Tumininu Adeshina (Naija Ratels); Mamusoz Edafe (Rivers Angels); Olamide Oyinlola (Naija Ratels); Miracle Usani (Abia Angels); Confidence Nwoha (Nasarawa Amazons); Kemi Soremekun (Confluence Queens) Midfielders: Blessing Emmanuel (Naija Ratels); Taiwo Afolabi (Delta Queens); Chidera Okenwa (Abia Angels); Aminat Bello (SGH Queens); Joy Igbokwe (Mees Palace) Forwards: Mercy Itimi (Bayelsa Queens); Alvine Da-Zossu (Osun Babes); Anastasia Atume (Honey Badgers); Raheemot Adebayo (FC Robo Queens); Olaide Mosaku (Prince Kazeem Eletu Queens); Opeyemi Ajakaiye (FC Robo Queens); Yetunde Ayantosho (Osun Babes); Adaobi Okah (Edo Queens).
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