WAFCON qualifier: NFF confirms Sao Tome withdrawal



By: Ebenezer Bajela.

The Nigeria Football Federation has confirmed that Sao Tome and Principe have withdrawn from the 2024 Women Africa Cup of Nations first round against Nigeria, The PUNCH reports.

The nine-time African champions were to host the Sao Tome and Principe ladies in the first leg of the qualifying match at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos on Friday, with the return leg scheduled for Tuesday, September, 26.

The Nigerian football governing body last week released a list of 24 players for the clash, with camp slated to open Tuesday (today).

However, NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, told The PUNCH that logistics was the primary reason for their opponents’ withdrawal from the WAFCON qualifiers.

“Sao Tome have officially withdrawn from the game against Nigeria,” he said.

“They said they don’t have a stadium in their country and that has increased their cost of participating in international competitions.”

Olajire also confirmed to The PUNCH that the Central African side have communicated their decision to the Confederation of Africa Football.

Meanwhile, an official of the Falcons said the Super Eagles’ thumping of Sao Tome’s men’s  side may have played a role in their ladies’ withdrawal.

The Eagles last week defeated the Selecao 6-0 in their last game of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, after earlier humiliating them 10-0 on match-day 3 of the qualifying series.

“We learned that they have withdrawn from the qualifiers,” the official said.

“We know Sao Tome are not really a football nation and they wouldn’t have thought they were going to face the Falcons at this stage of the qualifiers. We just defeated their men 16-0 in two games combined. They must have thought there was no point wasting resources on a game they knew they were not going to win.”

As a result of the withdrawal, the Super Falcons have automatically advanced to the second round without having to play a game.

Randy Waldrum’s side will now await the winners of the tie between Cape Verde and Liberia in the second round of qualifiers.

The second round of the WAFCON qualifiers has been slated for between November 27 and December 5.

The victorious team from that contest will earn a spot in the 2024 WAFCON, which will be hosted by Morocco, the hosts of last year’s edition of the continental showpiece, where the Falcons finished in fourth place.