African champions, Nigeria and Cameroon find themselves in tight corners in the continental qualifiers of the 2016 Olympic Games after stalemates in the first leg matches of the third round on Saturday.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea in Abuja whereas ‘Les Lionnes’ of Cameroon came from behind to hold Ghana’s Black Queens to a similar result in Yaounde.
Much was expected from the two teams following their participation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup which ended in Canada few weeks ago especially the Cameroonians, who wrote history by reaching the knockout stage on their maiden attempt.
But they had captain Christine Manie to thank for the equalizer on 54 minutes after Mercy Myles had shot the West Africans into the lead after 25 minutes.
Cameroon coach, Enow Ngachu was without as many as nine players from their World Cup squad including veteran defender Cathy Bou Ndjouh, midfielder Raissa Feudjio and forward Gaelle Enganamouit for the clash due to club commitments.
“I’m Very proud because we have avoided the worst. I am happy with my girls because they gave everything. The goal that Ghana scored was just a surprise. We were not expecting it. After the goal, we played very well.
“We did not win the match today, but I’m really pleased because my players gave their best. We can go and win there. We are very confident. Ghana has never beaten us in Accra,” Ngachu told the media after the match.
His Ghanaian counterpart, Yussif Basigi, hoping to go into the history books as the man to guide the Queens to a first ever appearance at the multisport sport said: “we came here with the intention to win because we knew that Cameroon is a very good team. We saw them play the FIFA Women’s World Cup and with the performance that they made. We knew a little about how they play. We are not afraid of them, but we respect them”.
In Abuja, Nigeria surrendered a first half lead to share honours with rivals Equatorial Guinea. Midfielder Halimat Ayinde opened the scores on 25 minutes before Chinasa Okoro grabbed the vital equalizer for the visitors on 65 minutes.
South Africa’s Banyana Banyana was the only side to record a win, but they had to sweat past a determined Kenya team in Johannesburg. Defender Lebohang Ramalepe scored the only goal of the match on 75 minutes with a speculative cross that beat the Kenya goalie.
The second leg matches will take place in a fortnight with the winners advancing to the final stage of the qualifiers.
Two teams will emerge to represent Africa at the final tournament from 3-20 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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