Women’s African Cup Of Nations WAFCON 2022: Road To The Quarterfinals

The last round of group games of the ongoing Women’s African Cup Of Nations (WAFCON 2022) was played on Sunday, 10 July 2022. The Group C games saw South Africa beat Botswana by a lone goal to top the group with the maximum 9 points. In the other game, Nigeria demolished Burundi 4-0 to also book their place in the quarterfinals.

In group A, the host Morocco grabbed all 9 points after beating Burkina Faso (1-0), Uganda (3-1), and Senegal (1-0). Senegal also booked a place in the quarterfinals after beating Uganda (2-0) and Burkina Faso (1-0).

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Although Zambia finished top of Group B, they were unable to grab the maximum 9 points. Their opening game against Cameroon is arguably one of the toughest games of the tournament so far.

Zambia beat Tunisia (1-0) and Togo (4-1) to top the group. Cameroon was second in the group after amassing 5 points.

Botswana and Tunisia made it to the quarterfinals by being the best losers. Both teams ended third in their group with 3 points each from one win.

WAFCON 2022 Quarterfinal fixtures

All the 8 remaining teams have everything to play for. Apart from going all the way to winning the trophy, the teams that make it to the semi-finals will also qualify for a place at the 2023 World Cup scheduled for Australia and New Zealand.

The first quarter-final games will be played on Wednesday 13 July 2022. In the first game of the day, Zambia will face Senegal for a place in the semi-finals and a spot in the 2023 World Cup. Later the same day, host Morocco will face Botswana.

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There will also be two games on Thursday 14 July 2022. In the first game of the day, the Super Falcons of Nigeria will face the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon. The second game of the day will see South Africa battle it out with Tunisia.

WAFCON 2022 shows improving competitiveness in African female soccer

A decade ago, African female soccer was often compared to basketball by many due to the wide goal margin often recorded when the so-called big teams meet smaller teams. That is no longer the case today.

Throughout the group stages, only Nigeria, Tunisia, and Zambia scored four goals. The largest goal margin was 4-0 in the game where Nigeria outclassed Burundi. A decade ago, the margin would have been wider considering the pedigree of both teams.

Also, only 4 red cards have been shown in the tournament so far. This is also an indication of the growing discipline in the female sport. Interestingly, all the teams in which a player picked a red card are all out of the tournament (Uganda, Togo, Burundi, and Burkina Faso).

Challenges facing some quarterfinal teams at WAFCON 2022

Thembi Kgatlana takes a blow at WAFCON 2022 (Photo credit: Nigfooty)
Thembi Kgatlana takes a blow at WAFCON 2022 (Photo credit: Nigfooty)

South Africa’s key player Thembi Kgatlana is ruled out of the tournament due to injury. In addition to injury problems that have decimated the team, the South African national team is now facing a fresh threat from the COVID-19 outbreak ahead of their game against Tunisia.

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ESPN confirmed a statement from the South African Football Association which says “several players” have tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the quarterfinals. However, the number of affected players was not specified.

However, after beating Nigeria in their opening WAFCON 2022 Group C games, the South African it may be a costly mistake to write off the South African team just yet.

Nigeria will also have to push through the rest of the tournament without their star player Asisat Oshoala. The forward was diagnosed with a grade two ligament injury which she sustained during their opening game defeat against South Africa.

Regardless of the injury and COVID concerns, the race for the WAFCON 2022 champion is still open. Any of the 8 remaining teams is a potential winner. Stay tuned for more updates as actions resume tonight.

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