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The loss of Barbra Banda due to medical reasons on the eve of the tournament is a crippling blow for Zambia’s Shepolopolo.
Banda was the record-breaking star performer of their unforgettable Olympic campaign last year, and she could have spearheaded this squad to have achieved great things.
Without her, Zambia’s ambitions must be revised, although their defence will surely be stronger for their chastening experience in Japan last year.
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation’s overhaul of the country’s footballing structures and professionalism in recent years has also trickled into the women’s game, and the tournament will be a valuable opportunity to glimpse the progress made by the North African ladies.
They’re thriving under the leadership of former France international Reynald Pedros, who conquered Europe with Olympique Lyonnais, and home comforts could well make them the tournament’s dark horses.
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Consistent qualifiers for the Wafcon, Cameroon have never missed an edition of the tournament but have never clinched the big one—with 2016’s final defeat by Nigeria the closest they’ve come to conquering the continent.
The departures of Gaelle Enganamouit and Christine Manie have deprived them of two experienced operators, but the likes of Ajara Njoya and Gabrielle Onguene will still ensure the Indomitable Lionesses pack a punch.
#2 South Africa
Finalists last time around, Banyana Banyana pushed Nigeria close on that occasion—holding the Super Falcons 0-0 before succumbing on penalties—and will be looking to enact revenge on the reigning champions in their opener.
The experience of the 2019 World Cup should embolden them, while in Thembi Kgatlana—Player of the Tournament in 2018—they have a talent who can hurt any opposition defence in the competition.
The overwhelming favourites, Nigeria are the dominant side in the competition’s history and have the talent to go the distance again.
They’ve won a record 11 titles from 13 previous attempts and have only failed to reach the final on two previous occasions, winning 52 of their 62 matches in the tournament’s history.
In Asisat Oshoala, they boast arguably Africa’s best player in the planet today, and nothing less than the title will be accepted back home.