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Africa Women Cup of Nations

Wafcon 2022: ‘Everybody believes they can beat Nigeria’ – Super Falcons legend Akide

16:40 BST 27/07/2022
Nigeria Wafcon 2022
The West Africans were eliminated in the penultimate stage of the competition by hosts Morocco

Former Nigeria star Mercy Akide has claimed the Women's Africa Cup of Nations has grown steadily and everybody now believes they can beat the Super Falcons.

Nigeria, who are nine-time champions, were in Morocco as outright favourites to clinch a fourth successive title, but were eliminated by Morocco in the semi-final on post-match penalties.

"The competition is growing and other countries are catching up. Everybody now believes they can beat Nigeria," Akide told BBC Sport Africa.

While lauding Morocco, who finished as runners-up after going down to South Africa in the final, Akide said many African countries can learn from them. The Atlas Lionesses were also making a return to Wafcon after a 22-year absence.

"Just seeing Morocco with what they have done and the investment they've made, I think women's football and a lot of countries will learn from it," Akide, a veteran of three World Cups, two Olympic Games, and a winner of three African titles with the Super Falcons, added.

"When I see those countries that are investing, if you give it four or five years, it is going to be amazing, I am so grateful that I am still alive to see what Caf is doing for women's football.

"The quality from my time to now is getting better.

"South Africa have come so far and I give kudos to my friend Desiree [Ellis] for what she has done for that team. Looking at the Morocco team, the coach [Reynald Pedros] has done an amazing job.

The Wafcon-winning coach, Ellis, also echoed Akide’s sentiments on the positive investment being put into women’s soccer.

"It is fantastic to see the countries are all doing their bit for women's football," Ellis is quoted as saying.

"You look at some of the countries that were not here, the likes of Equatorial Guinea, two-time champions, the likes of Mali, who were semi-finalists [in 2018], so it shows that the game is growing.

"This has been fantastic, but there is always more that can be done.

Ellis, a veteran coach with Banyana Banyana, also advised on more that needs to be done.

"The next step is to get structured leagues and professionalise the sport," she concluded.

"If we want to compete with the rest of the world, that's the way to go because there is enough talent in Africa to win a World Cup."