By G9ija

South Africa head coach, Desiree Ellis is anticipating a difficult group stage contest when her side square off against Nigeria in the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations opening encounter in Rabat later in July.

The seven-time COSAFA Champions were drawn against the nine-time African champions in the group stage for the fifth time at the draw held in Rabat on Friday, with first time qualifiers Burundi and Botswana joining them in Group C.

In 2018, Banyana Banyana met Nigeria in the group stage, breaking their four-game winless group stage jinx with a 1-0 triumph in Cape Coast but later lost 4-3 on penalties to the West Africans in the final following a 0-0 draw in Accra.

Although, the South Africans revenged their 2018 title loss at the Aisha Buhari Cup, where they defeated the Super Falcons 4-2 to lift the crown, Ellis insisted the upcoming group stage meeting would be a ‘very difficult game’.

“Well we always knew the draw was not going to be easy. Nigeria, the defending champions and multiple winners always bring their game and know what it takes to win,” Ellis told CAFOnline.com.

“We have played them a few times in the group stages. They have raised their levels and we have to raise our levels even higher to get a positive result. The first game is the most important game and once again we need a positive result but it will take a huge effort.

“Anything that has come before is history but it has shown us what we are capable of and has given us confidence and belief. As I said earlier we have played them many times in the group stages and this will be no different especially with this being an opening group match which is similar to 2018.

“We will need a huge effort to get a positive result. The first game is the most important of any tournament and getting a positive result is very important but we know that it’s not going to be an easy game. Actually, it’s going to be a very difficult game.”