Nigeria are poised to defend their Women’s Africa Cup of Nations title and also secure a World Cup place as the top four finishers will qualify for the 2023 finals in Australia and New Zealand.
The tournament, taking place in Casablanca and Rabat, kicks off today (Saturday) 2nd of July and ends on July 23.
The Super Falcons have won 9 of the previous 11 tournaments and are favourites to triumph again in Morocco but should still face challenge from the likes of Cameroon, South Africa, and Zambia.
“We have been preparing since January with international friendly games,” said Nigerian captain Onome Ebi, as reported by Daily Trust, who needs one more appearance to reach her 100th cap for the national team.
“We are very prepared and we know how important this competition is.
“We are going to retain our trophy as we have new players who are blending well with the old players.
“We are looking forward to winning it for the 10th time.
“Lifting the trophy will be a dream come true for me.
“It will be something I won’t forget in my career.
“We know other countries will be fighting against us and we will work extra hard to keep the trophy.
“It won’t be easy but we are up to task.”
The 12 teams in the competition are divided into three groups of four with the top two in each group plus two best third-placed finishers advancing to the knockout stages.
Hosts and world number 77 Morocco are back after a 22-year absence from the competition to make a third appearance.
Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Uganda are set to meet them in group A and are ranked 89th, 138th, and 156th in the world.
Cameroon, Zambia, Tunisia and Togo make up group B while group C sees South Africa, Burundi, and Botswana join Nigeria.
Equatorial Guinea, the only other team to win the tournament, will not appear at the 2022 edition after losing 7-3 on aggregate to Tunisia in the second qualification round.
The Nzalang Femenino were triumphant in 2008 and 2012 after beating South Africa in both finals.
Morocco will begin proceedings in the opening match tomorrow against Burkina Faso at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in the capital.
The only other venue at the competition is the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca and is set to welcome Cameroon and Zambia on July 3 for its first game.