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Battle for bronze pits Nigeria against Zambia

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Nigeria and Zambia will contest the third-place play-off at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations on Friday, in search of some consolation and a bronze medal at the continental showpiece.

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Nigeria were ousted by hosts Morocco in the semifinals, while Zambia lost to COSAFA foes South Africa as both saw their hopes of winning the title ended, but will also leave with the consolation of having earned a spot at thew 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

The Super Falcons will be favourites to take third place, but come up against a stubborn Zambian side who gave Banyana Banyana more than a run for their money in the semis. Losing only to a disputed late penalty.

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The Football Association of Zambia lodged a protest with CAF over the award, demanding the game be replayed, which has come to nothing.

“It is true that we have gone beyond our expectations. I’m proud of my team, the way they played, but above all even more proud of their behaviour,” coach Bruce Mwape said. “The courage of this team will be our greatest strength in the years to come. They were masterful.”

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Nigeria will be without a number of their leading players. Halimatu Ayinde and Rasheedat Ajibade miss the game due to suspension, while CB Onome Ebi and star name Asisat Oshoala are absent with injury.

“We have two players suspended as a result of red cards in the last game, and we also have some players down with injury,” coach Randy Waldrum said. “So, there will be changes but we will go for the best legs that would give us victory.”

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Nigeria defeated the Copper Queens 4-0 at the 2018 Wafcon, and 6-0 in 2014, though the Zambians are a much improved outfit since then, as displayed by their showing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year and first ever qualification for the World Cup.

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