The South African senior men were paired with Nigeria in the 2019 Cameroon African Nations Cup tournament and as fate would have it, the women have also drawn against their Nigerian counterparts in the 2019 African Women Cup of Nations.
In a draw conducted in Accra on Sunday, Banyana Banyana were paired with the Super falcons of Nigeria, the Shepolopolo of Zambia as well as the Harambee Starlets of Kenya in Group B of the tournament that gets underway in the West African country on November 17.
The tournament doubles up as a qualifier for the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in France and for Banyana Banyana to secure tickets to Paris; they must not just overcome their perennial nemesis – Nigeria – but ensure a podium finish, as the top three teams will qualify for the Mundial.
SA coach Desiree Ellis has already received a set-back to her plans as two of her key players have been refused permission to join up with the squad he had called up to assemble in Johannesburg on Sunday October 21 to start preparations for the tournament.
Ellis called up a squad of 31 players that she planned to reduce to 21 on Friday. But Finland-based striker Ode Fulutudilu has been forced to withdraw due to club commitments as well as United States based midfielder Amogelang Motau.
Motau declined the invitation to join the training camp due to studies and club commitments at the Oral Roberts University in the United States of America.
Although it was not clear on Sunday whether they would be drafted into the final squad, the fact that Ellis has called up Sduduzo Dlamini (Sunflower FC) and Gabriela Salgado (JVW FC) respectively is an indication that they might not be considered at all if they cannot join the preparatory camp.
Banyana open their campaign with a make-or-break tie against Nigeria in the Cape Coast on November 18, followed by Zambia three days later and they round off their group programme against Kenya on November 24.
Group A, which consists of hosts Ghana, Cameroon, Algeria and Mali, gets the tournament underway on November 17 and will be based in the capital Accra.