Due to the impromptu directive of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the Women’s Champions League qualification rounds of West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B has been postponed to two days from its former commencement date – Friday, August 18, 2023, because of the withdrawal of Nigerien-based side, AS Garde National.
This was disclosed by the WAFU Director of Competition in an exclusive chat with Platinum News, Bailly Serge Innocent stated that this was an urgent call from CAF that a fresh draw should immediately take place to pool all remaining six teams into two separate groups with a completely new set of fixtures altogether.
The qualifiers, however, will now begin on Sunday, August 20 – Saturday, September 2, 2023, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo State with powerhouses of West African teams, spreading across six nations, with representatives of Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, and Côte d’Ivoire.
Group A comprising Delta Queens of Nigeria, USFA of Burkina Faso and Sam Nelly FC of Benin Republic while Group B consists of Ampem Darkoa of Ghana, Atletico D’Abidjan, and Friends of the World FC of Togo find themselves in another pool.
Meanwhile, Bailly said that the first two editions had happened at the WAFU Headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire with this year’s tourney set to get underway here in the Southern Hemisphere of the country, however, the decision to award the hosting right to Nigeria was on their passion towards the sport, especially, women’s football.
He also noted that another factor was that the state of facilities in the hosting stadium, Samuel Ogbemudia is of a top-notch edification.
“First, when we came here for inspection in June. We spent four days checking out the pitch and other facilities like the match conference room, VIP launch, fitness room, power and also the office for the match officials which are all in perfect condition.
“The stadium with its electrifying aura; both in and out. Moreover, this is a CAF-approved stadium so there was no need to doubt the ability to stage this tournament with all the teams divided into two different groups”, Bailly said.
The WAFU Director of Competition, however, implied that the qualification round of games will spread over two weeks with a 48-hour rest between each matchday.
“A game each from both Groups A & B, then we have a two-day rest in between the competition. So, the programme will be okay until we depart from this beautiful state, Edo State by the 2nd of September with the hopes for a successful tournament, with the teams highly motivated. We are proud of the League Organising Committee’s (LOC) dedication together with the solid hands-on ground to achieve a successful tournament”, he explained.
He further commented on the teams’ readiness coming into the tournament, while advising that there are no pushovers amongst all six.
“You know this tournament is meant for champions of women’s domestic leagues in each member association, that is, coming to this competition; intensive preparation is needed.
“That is, all the teams are proud representatives of their countries, as far as women’s football is concerned. Therefore, there is no doubt about the quality of the players and the teams as far as the organisation is concerned.
“We know that they will deliver very good football just as previous competitions have shown that women can do a lot with the ball. They have a role to play in football. With the experiences some of them have acquired, we trust them to play top-quality football”, he noted.
The main tournament of the 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League, now on its third year in a row will be played in Côte d’Ivoire between 5 – 19 November with the 2022 CAF Women’s Champions League defending champions, AS FAR of Morocco, 2022/23 Ivory Coast Women’s Championship winners and hosts, Athlético FC d’Abidjan and 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League WAFU Zone A Qualifiers champions, AS Mandé of Mali have already booked a place.