‘Why always Nigeria?’

2015-04-12 15:00

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Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw has slammed the format of the Olympic Games’ qualifying tournament for women by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Pauw vented her frustrations over a potential clash between Banyana and

Nigeria in the last round of the qualifiers for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year.

The likely clash is on the cards if both nations advance to the final round of qualifiers that end in October.

The CAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament starts next month. Banyana will begin their campaign against Gabon in the first leg of the second round.

The winner of that fixture will meet the winner between Kenya and Botswana.

“We can shout and say we are going to qualify [for the Olympics], but it will be difficult. CAF always pits us against Nigeria.

“It was only in 2012 that we played Ethiopia [in the final qualifying round], but all the other qualifications were played against Nigeria,” said Pauw, adding “it’s unfair competition and it has to stop, otherwise the game won’t develop.”

Pauw’s annoyance was shared by Safa’s acting technical director, Fran Hilton-Smith.

“In the many years I have been in football, we always had to play Nigeria to qualify for anything. And, should we meet them this time around, they’ll be fresh from the World Cup,” said Hilton-Smith.

It almost becomes an obvious prediction that Nigeria – who will represent Africa at this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada – will get past Mali in their qualifier next month.

The winner of that game will face Congo-Brazzaville or Equatorial Guinea in the third round.

The Super Falcons of Nigeria prevented Banyana from reaching the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

The nations’ most recent clash was in the semifinals of the African Women’s Championship in Namibia in October last year.

Nigeria again denied Banyana a passage to this year’s World Cup after they won the continental championship.

The feat earned Nigeria an automatic qualification to the global showpiece that will be held in Canada from June 6 to July 5.

Commenting on how the team was shaping up under her second stint as Banyana coach, Pauw said: “The difference is that, in the previous year, we had to qualify when the tournament [the Fifa World Cup] was just around the corner.

“The Cyprus Cup [last month] was good preseason [training] for us after three months without any action.

“Qualifying for the All Africa Games is crucial, because that will give us proper preparation for the Nigeria game, if we happen to meet them.”

Pauw came under criticism last year after rumours that she had banned Banyana players from singing in the dressing room before matches.

“I still don’t know where that story came from, because we have discussed where and when players can dance and pray.

“It was unbelievably ridiculous that I [was said to have] issues with the players singing,” she added.

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