By Macdonald Ayang, November 21, 2016
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – The 2016 Africa women’s cup of nations, AWCON, rumbled off over the weekend with the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon and the Super Falcons of Nigeria proving they could be tough tests for their opponents as the competition matures.
Cameroon neatly beat a disjointed Egyptian side by two goals to nil in the opening match of the competition to go top of Group A with three points while Nigeria thumped Mali six goals to nil on Sunday to maintain their lead in group B in Limbe.
On Saturday, Cameroon proved superior to their Egyptian opponents throughout the game; the Lionesses were resilient, creative, showed individual tenacity, were convincing but also missed several goal-scoring opportunities during the heavily-attended game.
The match was tight from start till the 25th minute when Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene headed in a difficult ball to score the opener.
The home side maintained the lead deep into the second half before Captain Ngono Manie finely converted a penalty at the 73rd minute, after Chout Ajara was fouled in the penalty area, to put the match beyond the reach of the Egyptians.
The Lionesses’ brilliant performance Saturday, football observers posit, is enough signal to the next opponents of the girls of Coach Enow Ngachu about their unflinching desire to host and win the 10th edition of the continental women’s football showpiece.
Cameroon resumes play tomorrow when they face South Africa in the first day two matches of group A at 4pm, before tackling Zimbabwe in the last group tie on Friday at the same time and venue.
The Lionesses’ next two group opponents (South Africa and Zimbabwe) played a 0-0 draw Saturday in a match that proved difficult for both sides, leaving Cameroon largely on the vantage position.
Biya, Chantal grace opening ceremony
President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal showed up at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium to witness the opening ceremony of the competition amidst tight security Saturday. All members of government and the diplomatic corps were also in attendance.
The 2016 AWCON is the first major football competition to be hosted by Cameroon in 44 years. The first was the 1972 Africa cup of nations hosted in Yaounde and Douala when Ahmadou Ahidjo was Cameroon’s head of state.
It also was amidst deafening applause and jubilation that the head of state officially declared open the two-week tournament.
For well over 45 minutes, shortly after the arrival of the Presidential couple and their installation at the Presidential tribune, a chorographic display, described by some as sub-standard, was staged vividly depicting Cameroon’s pre-colonial, colonial, and post colonial experience as a nation.
AWCON 2016 in brief
The Africa women’s cup of nations, AWCON, is an eight-team biennial spectacle. It is in its 10th edition this year and is being played in the cities of Yaounde and Limbe. It will run until December 3.
Yaounde is host to pool A which comprises the host country Cameroon, Egypt, with whom they played the opening match, as well as South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The seaside city of Limbe on its part is lodging teams of group B which include defending champions, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana and Kenya.
The tournament has no prize-money but the top three finishers will automatically qualify for the 2019 FIFA women’s world cup to be hosted by France.