Banyana Banyana Aim to Extend Dominance Over Super Falcons in Crucial Olympic Qualifier

South Africa's Banyana Banyana face continental arch-rivals Nigeria's Super Falcons in the first leg of a high-stakes CAF Women's Olympic Qualifier under the floodlights of Abuja's MKO Abiola National Stadium, in Nigeria on Friday, 5 April, 2024. Photo: SAFA

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana face their arch-rivals, Nigeria’s Super Falcons, in the first leg of a high-stakes CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifier under the floodlights of Abuja’s MKO Abiola National Stadium, in Nigeria on Friday, 5 April, 2024.

This winner-takes-all clash – played over two legs – will determine which of the two African women’s football powerhouse nation books their place to the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

Desiree Ellis’ Banyana Banyana squad arrived in Nigeria brimming with confidence, having emerged victorious in their last two encounters against the Super Falcons.  

A 4-2 triumph in the 2021 Aisha Buhari Cup and a 2-1 victory in the group stages of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) serve as a stark reminder of the changing tide in African women’s football. 

The Banyana Banyana Road to the SemiFinal

However, both coach Ellis and captain Refiloe Jane are wary of complacency.  “It feels good to be back with the team,” says Jane, recently recovered from an injury, “but past results won’t matter in this all-important qualifier.” 

“Even though we have played Nigeria a couple of times and recently won against them, we still need to give them the respect they deserve. They are still the undisputed African champions when you look at the number of times they have ruled the continent in the WAFCON.” 

Banyana Banyana captain, Refiloe Jane

Recognising the importance of adapting to the Abuja climate, SAFA ensured the Banyana Banyana squad arrived in Nigeria early.  “We’ve put in a lot of work at home,” explains coach Ellis, “but the heat here is completely different.  The players have come in and put all of it together. I am very excited about the training, commitment, and the effort.” 

Banyana Banyana boasts a strong team, with experienced campaigners like Jane and Linda Motlhalo providing leadership.  The return of the prolific forward Thembi Kgatlana further bolsters their attacking prowess.  Midfielder Sinoxolo Cesane is the only absentee from the final 24-member squad, and will only rejoin the team for the return leg in South Africa. 

Nigeria counters with a formidable squad of their own, led by the ever-dangerous Asisat Oshoala.  Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie provides a resolute presence at the back, while midfielders like Rasheedat Ajibade and Toni Payne offer creativity and control. 

Both Banyana Banyana and the Super Falcons missed out on qualification for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.  Victory in this qualifier would represent a significant achievement, not only for the players themselves, but for the development of women’s football in their respective nations. 

The clash promises to be a tactical battle, with Banyana Banyana’s recent success against Nigeria potentially giving them a psychological edge.  However, the Super Falcons’ experience and determination to reclaim their dominance in African football cannot be underestimated. 

Tonight’s encounter is a must-watch for fans of African women’s football.  The winner will take a giant leap towards securing a coveted place at the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet.   

The CAF African Fourth Round Olympic Qualifier

Fri, 5 April: Nigeria vs South Africa (MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, Nigeria)
Tue, 9 April: South Africa vs Nigeria (Loftus Versveld, Pretoria, South Africa)

The Final 24-Member Banyana Banyana Squad for the CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifier

Goalkeepers
Kaylin Swart
Katlego Moletsane
Regirl Ngobeni

Defenders
Karabo Dhlamini
Fikile Magama
Tiisetso Makhubela
Lonathemba Mhlongo
Bambanani Mbane
Noko Matlou
Lebogang Ramalepe
Bongeka Gamede

Midfielders
Linda Motlhalo
Refiloe Jane
Sibulele Holweni
Sinoxolo Cesane
Nomvula Kgoale
Nonhlanhla Mthandi
Amogelang Motau

Forwards
Gabriela Salgado
Jermaine Seoposenwe
Noxolo Cesane
Hildah Magaia
Thembi Kgatlana
Nthabiseng Majiya

Nigeria Full List of Invited Players

Goalkeepers
Chiamaka Nnadozie
Tochukwu Oluehi
Linda Jiwuaku

Defenders
Osinachi Ohale
Ashleigh Plumptre
Shukurat Oladipo
Michelle Alozie
Nicole Payne
Chidinma Okeke

Midfielders
Deborah Abiodun
Halimatu Ayinde
Christy Ucheibe
Jennifer Echegini
Rasheedat Ajibade
Toni Payne

Forwards
Omorinsola Babajide
Esther Okoronkwo
Ifeoma Onumonu
Asisat Oshoala
Uchenna Kanu
Gift Monday
Chiwendu Ihezuo


Main Photo Caption: South Africa’s Banyana Banyana face continental arch-rivals Nigeria’s Super Falcons in the first leg of a high-stakes CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifier under the floodlights of Abuja’s MKO Abiola National Stadium, in Nigeria on Friday, 5 April, 2024. Photo: SAFA

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