Nasarawa Amazons, Bayelsa Queens set for intriguing battle in Super 4 opener
The opening match of the 2016/17 Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) Super 4 will see 2013 league winners Nasarawa Amazons lock horns with Bayelsa Queens at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Monday.
Kick off is at 2pm.
Amazons are looking to cement their status as one of the pre-eminent sides in the women’s game by winning their second league crown. They are strongly fancied to return to the top of the podium in 2017.
The Lafia side performed well during the regular season and picked 26 points in Group B, but they were edged to second spot by Delta Queens via goal difference.
Josephine Mathias is the heartbeat and inspiration of the side, with a clutch of ambitious youngsters providing a talented supporting cast.
Ijeoma Emenike, Anam Imo and Chinyere Igboamalu, Ikeh Ginika, Kafayat Ajani and Adejoke Ejalonibu would be relied upon to carry potent threats, while central midfielder Amarachi Okoronkwo will be looking to inspire the team with penetrating passes and her deft touches.
Nasarawa Amazons’ predicted likely line up: Chioma Nwankwo, Ebere Okoye, Joy Duru, Sarah Nnodim, Mariam Ibrahim, Amarachi Okoronkwo, Victor Esther, Josephine Mathias, Anam Imo, Adejoke Ejalonibu, Kafayat Ajani
Bayelsa Queens’ star continues to rise, not that the Restoration Girls have been poor performers in the past.
Consistent strong showings have seen the team stocked with solid depth across all positions.
They suffered a 1-0 loss to Rivers Angels in the final to determine the NWPL champions in 2015.
Fast and technical approach play will test any team and Bayelsa Queens will be quietly confident of success after years of underachievement.
The Restoration Girls finished ahead of defending champions Rivers Angels in Group A, the Yenagoa side impressed as much as any team in the regular season. The team won seven of their 12 matches in the highly competitive Pool.
Bayelsa Queens have an array of attacking talents led by Yetunde Adeboyejo who scored three goals in as many games. The midfield is equally strong with Osarenoma Igbinovia calling the shots. The jewel in the crown remains Tessy Biawho, with the playmaker – whose strike-rate is a goal every two games. The presence of skipper Udegbe Esther, Macleans Okogba, Ayomide Anibaba, Aminat Yakubu and Alaba Jonathan is a plus to the team.
Although only taking the reins at the end of the first stanza, Bayelsa Queens gaffer Ayebatonye Amabebe is highly versed in the game. The astute Ayebatonye tinkered the team to four wins in six games, with the team progressing. The team reached an unprecedented high.
Bayelsa Queens’ predicted likely line up:
Alaba Jonathan, Lucky Odiri, Lilian Tule, Anibaba Ayomide, Doris Ewhubare, Esther Udegbe (c), Yakubu Aminat, Osarenoma Igbinovia, Tessy Biawho, Adeboyejo Yetunde, Okogba Macleans
Let’s take a closer look at how the two teams might fare against each other.
Two talented goalkeepers will battle it out on Monday: Nwankwo and Alaba for Nasarawa Amazons and Bayelsa Queens. If the Amazons recent games are any indication, the club’s hopes will rest heavily on Chioma and Uchenna Chukwu’s shoulders. Meanwhile, Alaba has Favour Nwaohia and Ihiabi Rabi to back her up.
Nasarawa Amazons’ defense is decent and organized, but the likes of Mariam and Nnodim will have to go beyond the decent level if they want to keep up with the dangerous Bayelsa strike force. Bayelsa Queens’ defense marshalled by the dependable Udegbe may not be as strong as it was, but it’s still pretty solid.
Amazons’ over-reliance on Okoronkwo could prove to be their undoing against Bayelsa’s Igbinovia and Biahwo. Otherwise, both teams are evenly matched in the midfield area.
The powerful Macleans and tricky Yakubu are capable of causing all sorts of problems if they at their best elements. On the other hand, the combined efforts of Ejalonibu, Imo and Igboamalu could overwhelm them.
My name is Ademetan Abayomi Olabode, a women football writer and blogger.
I cover events regarding the Nigeria Women Football League and the national teams.