Banyana set to claim AWC spot

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Fourteen teams including defending champions, Super Falcons of Nigeria will be hotly engaged in the battle for a place in the female version of the African Cup of Nations.

Banyana Banyana are at home to Zimbabwe and will be aiming to complete a double over their northern neighbours following a 4-1 victory in Harare a fortnight ago.

Equatorial Guinea gained automatic qualification as hosts and the remaining teams will be known by the close of the week.

In Abuja, African champions, Nigeria will host their Namibian counterparts, with a 3-0 lead from the first leg played in Windhoek a fortnight ago; in an encounter that favours the former.

The Super Falcons have never lost a game at home in the qualifying rounds of a major tournament, and the Namibians doesn’t seem the opponent to break that record.

Noted for their high scoring record at home, the Super Falcons look certain to book a place in the continent’s foremost female championship, a competition they have won all five past editions.

Elsewhere in Accra, the Mama Elephants of Ivory Coast are sure of pulling a fast one on western neighbours, Ghana to qualify for their first ever major competition.

An uninspiring one all draw from the first leg has seen the Black Queens overhaul their technical team with Mumuni Gamel, coach of U-20 side, the Black Princesses and his deputy Ben Fokuo in place of Isaac Paha and his two assistants, Dan Owusu and Dora Zutah.

The Ivorians remain in a buoyant mood as they seek to edge out their Ghanaian counterparts, ranked second on the continent, but have struggled to find their feet in recent times.

Coach Adelaide Koudougnon’s side have been boosted by the arrival of Lago Armelle and Sanogo Maoua, who both play D2 championship in France as they seek to complete their giant killing feat.

Captain Gnago Alexise Jeanne believes the long camping of the team will be crucial to their quest of surprising the Black Queens at their own backyard.

“Everybody is ready. I think the achievements of the team will enable us to defeat Ghana.”

That notwithstanding, coach Gamel who guided the Black Princesses to a bronze feat during the 9th All Africa Games in Algeria last year remains upbeat about their chances, to justify their course as the second best team in Africa.

Tunisia will host Algeria in Tunis after a barren draw from the first leg while Cameroon is expected to complete a double over Tanzania, whom they spanked 3-0 in Dar es Salaam a fortnight ago.

Mali are favoured to go through at the expense of Guinea, who must overturn an eight goal deficit from the first leg to be on track just as Congo, who trek DR Congo courtesy a 4-1 win in the first leg.

The winners will join hosts Equatorial Guinea for the draw later in the year.

The championships have been fixed for November 15-29.

Fixtures (First leg results in brackets):Tunisia v Algeria (0-0)DR Congo v Congo (1-4)South Africa v Zimbabwe (4-1)Cameroon v Tanzania (3-0)Nigeria v Namibia (3-0)Ghana v Cote d’Ivoire (1-1)Mali v Guinea (8-0)