Super Falcons may have lost their opening Group C game to Banyana Banyana on Monday.
However, they will be facing off against arguably one of the trickiest team in the group when they take on debutants Botswana at the Prince Moulay Al-Hassan Stadium on Thursday (today).
Botswana registered one of the biggest wins of the WAFCON so far when they saw off fellow debutants Burundi 4-2 on Monday; while the Falcons got their campaign off to a bad start after their 2-1 defeat to Banyana same day; their sixth loss in the history of the competition in over three decades.
Randy Waldrum’s side must defeat the Mares today to stand a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the competition; in order to keep their Women’s World Cup hopes alive by recording their 51st win in the tournament.
“We feel bad to have lost the opening match, and against South Africa for that matter; but we have been able to put that behind us,” Falcons captain Onome Ebi said on Wednesday.
“We resolved immediately after the match that we will give what it takes to win all remaining games.
“There is no need for too many words. All we want to do is get the win against Botswana to restore our confidence, and then we can take things from there.”
Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, who will be without the injured Asisat Oshoala, is expected to ring changes to his starting line-up for the game.
First-choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie makes a return, after missing the first match due to suspension; while either Gift Monday or Uchenna Kanu will fill the void left by Oshoala in attack.
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In defence, Waldrum could also deploy Leicester City Ladies defender Ashleigh Plumptre to her accustomed role at centre-back alongside Ebi; while Osinachi Ohale and Glory Ogbonna moves to right and left-back respectively.
Meanwhile, Botswana head coach, Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang, disclosed that the Mares were motivated to inflict another defeat on the defending champions; who parade an array of Europe-based professionals at the tournament.
Nkutlwisang said the Banyana’s triumph against the Falcons had given them a reason to believe they could stage an upset.
“When we saw South Africa’s win over Nigeria, it motivated us. We saw that now we must win this game, were proud of the way we played against Burundi.
“We are competing against the best teams and we are already looking forward to our next game and we want to continue improving,” she said.