Christine Manie and Rachael Ayegba, two legends of the game, preview the big clash between Nigeria and Cameroon


Nigeria versus Cameroon is a titanic clash between two behemoths of women's football on the African continent. Two nations that have represented Africa in the world’s biggest competitions, they will meet on Thursday at Casablanca’s Mohammed V Stadium to renew their rivalry at the TotalEnergies Women's Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco for a place in the semi finals.

Ahead of this huge match, which will as an additional incentive guarantee the winner an automatic FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying spot, CAFOnline met up with Cameroon legend and former Indomitable Lionesses captain, Christine Manie, and charismatic former Super Falcons goalkeeper, Rachael Ayegba to get their views on the big match and the rivalry between the two countries.

The two legends have been working as on-site commentators for CAF’s international WAFCON television broadcast and we met up with them in Rabat.

Nigeria versus Cameroon: what does this rivalry mean to you?

Rachael Ayegba: It represents so much. We have two great nations of African women's football set to again compete against each other. I remember meeting them at previous African Cup of Nations and we often beat them, if not always (smiling).

This is an opportunity for Cameroon to dethrone Nigeria, but the best team remains (pointing the finger at herself) Nigeria!

Christine Manie: It's more than a rivalry, it's a challenge for me. I played against the Super Falcons and lost two finals. It's a challenge that all the players want to play, whether it's on the side of Nigeria or Cameroon. This is one of the big games of these quarter finals. We have already beaten Nigeria (editor's note: in the match for third place at WAFCON 2012 in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon beat Nigeria 1-0). We can do it again.

Do you have any anecdotes about the rivalry to share with us?

CM: In 2012, we played the Super Falcons twice, the first time in a pool game. We noticed that before entering the field, they did not have their names properly done on the jerseys, it was written in felt (pen). We started laughing. Then I looked at my team and said “Let's stop laughing. Flocked jerseys or not, it's Nigeria!" They beat us that day.

Christine Manie vs Rasheedat Ajibade - WAFCON 2018

Since 2004, all editions of the WAFCON has seen a match between Cameroon and Nigeria. Those games have seen nine wins for the Super Falcons and one win for the Indomitable Lionesses. What do those numbers suggest?

R.A: I think Cameroon has always had a good team. However, the difference is clear. When Nigeria gets to the quarter finals, you start to feel the cup, the victory. Our eyes are on one and the same goal. From an early age we have been inculcated with hatred of defeat. When we are in a competition like the African Cup of Nations, we are not there to make up the numbers. Like a good grandmother's recipe, the old ones passed on this winning spirit to the new generation.

C.M: It's frustrating. It's annoying. And at the same time, it's understandable. Nigeria is a very experienced team. This is a team that knows how to win titles. They are preparing to win the title. They do not prepare to pass towers. Here is the difference between Nigeria and the rest of the nations. Be careful, do not distort my words, I am not saying that nations do not want to win, on the contrary. I would like to unravel this mystery one day, what they do, what they think, how they prepare etc.

What will be the key to Thursday's match?

R.A: It's a final before the final. Looking at their last games in this tournament, we are dealing with two very good teams. I don't think there will be many goals and that's despite the fact that there are exceptional attacking players in both teams. The key to this match will be above all mental. Nigeria's past in its confrontations gives us an undeniable advantage.

Patience is also important, it will be necessary to move the the ball quickly and not waste the opportunities presented.

C.M: Avoid thinking about this rivalry between Nigeria and Cameroon. Thinking it's just a football game. Don't think about that final lost at home in 2016 or that semi-final lost in Ghana in 2018. You just have to think about playing this game. Knowing that victory will take us to the semi-finals of this Nations Cup and also to the World Cup.

And above all take pleasure and enjoyment in being on the field. That is the most important.