WAFCON 2022 Nigeria vs Burundi: It's do-or-die for the Super Falcons
First, second and third in Group C will all qualify for the quarterfinals, however, except for South Africa, anyone can get knocked on Sunday including the Super Falcons.
Having started the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) on a poor note, repercussions will strike on matchday 3 for the Super Falcons should they lose their final Group C game to debutants Burundi.
Nigeria come into this game on the back of a matchday two victory over Botswana, after Ifeoma Onumonu and Christy Ucheibe struck in either half of the game for the defending champions’ first three points.
Burundi, on the hand, were unlucky on matchday two, falling to a 3-1 defeat to 2018 runners-up South Africa.
But, with Group C still very open for anyone to qualify as first, second or third and anyone to get knocked out – except South Africa, what will be the fate of Nigeria, and Burundi?
Sunday’s meeting between the Super Falcons and Burundi’s Swallows will be the first of its kind. Burundi have also never competed at this level – a WAFCON – in their history, and are making their debut in Morocco.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, Nigeria lost 2-0 in its group opener to South Africa but came back strongly with a convincing 2-0 victory over Botswana on Thursday.
For Burundi, it’s been a tournament filled with mostly heartbreaks than large smiles as beautiful goals against Botswana and South Africa couldn’t prevent them from losing 4-2 and 3-1, respectively.
Last 3 matches including WAFCON 2022 (Nigeria): W – L – D
Last 3 matches including WAFCON 2022 (Burundi): L – L – L
Players to Watch
Gotham FC forward Ifeoma Onumonu rose to the occasion in the absence of injured Asisat Oshoala, scoring Nigeria’s opener against Botswana’s Mares with a fine finish. It wouldn’t be out of place to look towards the path of the 5 ft. 10 in. striker: who has scored four goals in six international appearances for Nigeria, in search of more against Burundi.
In Nigeria’s midfield, expectations will rest on the shoulders of 21-year-old Christy Ucheibe who came in as a substitute against Botswana and made an instant impact. Whether she will see more game time ahead of a possibly injured and experienced Rita Chikwelu, remains up to the Super Falcons’ head coach.
On the other side of the field will be the Burundian captain Asha Djafari. The Swallows skipper who also plays as a midfielder for Tanzanian club Simba Queens provided two assists for Burundi’s two goals in their first game against Botswana, and another one for Burundi’s only goal against South Africa.
Leading the team at 24, Djafari will be no newbie to understanding that the right leadership can play a huge role for Burundi.
Burundians at home will hope an even younger Sandrine Niyonkuru could again, bring her A-game, this time against Nigeria. The forward scored two of the best goals of the tournament so far as she landed a brace in the Swallows opener against Botswana.
Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum on Nigeria’s aspirations:
“We know what the Women Africa Cup means to Nigerians and we remain fully focused despite the opening-day setback. We are determined not only to win a ticket to the FIFA World Cup but also to retain the trophy that Nigeria has won nine times previously.”
Burundi’s coach Gustave Niyonkuru on how the Swallows will keep Nigeria out:
“At the moment Nigeria are also a good team, they are such an experienced team. I will have to revise my strategy because today [vs Botswana] I proposed a middle block. But it’s very risky because we are technically weak. So I’m going to correct to have a clean median block.”