In Abuja on Friday, the Super Falcons of Nigeria will face the Ladies Elephants of Ivory Coast in the first leg of the African Women’s Championship.

The Falcons are anxious to win their ninth African crown in Morocco later this year, but they must first defeat the formidable Ivorians in the qualifiers’ last round.

The Falcons have recently found the Ladies Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire to be a difficult knot to untangle. Their most recent victory over the Falcons came in 2019, when they defeated the African Champions in a Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier.

Nigeria’s only win over the Ivorians in the last five meetings came in a penalty shootout when Uchenna Kanu’s late goal in the 2019 WAFU Cup final in Abidjan cancelled out Ange N’Guessan’s opener.

Randy Waldrum told CAFonline prior of the first leg that he is unconcerned about the Ivorians’ recent bad records.

“The spirit in the camp is very high and positive. The players have been looking forward to these matches for some time now and their professionalism has been fantastic,” Waldrum told CAFOnline.com.

“I think we have a good understanding of Cote d’Ivoire and their current side. I’m not big on past history as that is why they call it history. The previous matches have no bearing on this one.

“We recognize the strengths of our opponents and will be prepared for that. Obviously, it’s vitally important to our goals of achieving another FIFA Women’s World Cup berth. Playing the first match at home is important as well to get on the front foot in everything we do.”

Despite a 1-0 second-leg loss in Accra, the African champions proceeded on a 2-1 aggregate triumph over Ghana in October, marking their first-ever defeat in WAFCON qualification history.