WAFU: Ivory Coast down Ghana as Burkina Faso hammer Niger in opener

Ivory Coast 1-0 Ghana WAFU Women's Cup
Ines Nrehy storms past Mavis Owusu in the WAFU Women's Cup 2018 opener. Photo: Abidjanet/Issouf Sanogo
Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso clinched victories as the first ever WAFU Women’s Cup kicked off on Wednesday 14 February.

The opener between title favourites Ivory Coast and Ghana proved a tight affair as anticipated with a solitary goal in favour of the hosts being the decider.

After an evenly-matched first half, a swift counter handed the Ivorians the lead five minutes into the second stanza.

Player of the Match Kpaho Zoté Nina collected the ball from Dominique Thiamalé before firing home the match winner.

The defeat was sweet revenge for the Ivorians who fell by a similar margin the last time these two sides met in the 2015 All African games semis.

The second match of the opening day was another rematch between two sides that met slightly over ten years ago.

Burkina Faso welcomed Niger back into the international stage with a 5–1 thrashing.

Three quick goals by Salimata Simporé (8th minute), Juliette Nana (13th minute) and Al Hassana saw Burkina Faso lead 3-0 by the break.

Limata Nikiema added a fourth in the 65th minute but an own goal five minutes later pulled one back for Niger.

Charlotte Millogo then rounded off the scoring in the 74th minute with a splendid individual effort.

USFA ladies’ custodian Juliette Nana was named player of the match.

This was a slight improvement for Niger who suffered a two-digit annihilation in the last duel between these two sides a decade ago.

The result places Burkina Faso at the peak of Group A, tied on three points with Ivory Coast but enjoying a superior goal difference.

Coming up…

This sets up a splendid second round as Group A leaders Burkina Faso and Ivory coast face off next, Friday 16 February.

Friday will also see Ghana take on Niger in what should be a lopsided affair in favour of the Black Queens looking to salvage their campaign.

Before then, title favourites Nigeria will commence their campaign against Mali on Thursday 15 February.

Mali, who stepped in after Benin withdrew, were yet to arrive in Abidjan by Wednesday evening, less than 24 hours to the match.

The two met last in the group stage of the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) where Nigeria strolled to a 6–0 win over Mali.

Also set for Thursday, is the tie between dark horse Senegal and Togo, a match the Senegalese are expected to stroll to victory.

Like Niger, this will be Togo’s first international match in just about ten years.

Most of the nations are using the tournament to prepare for AWCON 2018 qualifiers set to commence in April.

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