November 19 – Hosts Ghana kicked off the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 win against Algeria in Accra on Saturday. South Africa provided the first major upset of the finals defeating powerhouse Nigeria 1-0.
Gladys Amfobea scored Ghana’s only goal of the game in the first half as the hosts got their campaign off in style. In the other group A game Cameroon defeated Mali 2-1.
In Group B South Africa registered a surprise result on Sunday as they defeated long-time rival Nigeria 1-0. Substitute Thembi Kgatlana netted the only goal of the match in the 85th minute to hand Banyana Banyana the three points.
Nigeria, who have won the Africa Cup of Nations eight times, had come close to scoring in the first half through Desire Oparanozie, but couldn’t avoid just a second defeat against South Africa in more than two decades.
The South Africans reaped the benefits from a thorough preparation. Sponsored by Sasol, they played Sweden and Chile in friendlies, participated in the Cyprus Cup and retained their Women’s COSAFA championship title in the build-up to the continental championship.
“I am very disappointed that we lost the game. It would have been fair if the game had ended in a draw,” said Nigeria head coach Thomas Dennerby. “We had a bit more of the possession and South Africa are really good on counter attacks; we were aware and had analysed before the game so we knew what was coming. I think everybody will agree that we should have scored at least once in the first half and we missed that chance.”
In the second group game Zambia were emphatic 5-0 winners over former champions Equatorial Guinea. Grance Banda and Ireen Lungu scored for the Shepolopolo before half-time. Mary Mwakapila and two goals from Rachael Kundanaji completed the route for Zambia.
The top three teams of the finals will qualify for next year’s Women’s World Cup in France.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1550360079labto1550360079ofdlr1550360079owedi1550360079sni@o1550360079fni1550360079