Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji
A journey of thousand miles they say starts with a step. This was Bayelsa Queens’ journey to winning the 2021/2022 Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Premiership which means that the Yenegoa-based side will represent Nigeria at the Zonal Qualifiers for the 2022 TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League.
Bayelsa Queens played 12 games during the regular season from December 8, 2021, to April 6, 2022. The Yenegoa-based side started its title challenge with a 0-3 away win over Sunshine Queens in Akure on December 8, 2021, as Anjor Mary scored two goals coupled with a goal from Sunday Juliet.
Delta Queens in the second game of the season forced Bayelsa Queens to a 1-1 draw in Yenegoa. Grace Henry had given Bayelsa Queens a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute before Mercy Itimi equalised for Delta Queens in the 94th minute.
FC Robo Queens in Lagos handed Bayelsa Queens its first defeat of the season as Shukurat Oladipo converted the solitary goal for the Lagos Landladies in the December 22, 2021 encounter.
Bayelsa Queens started 2022 with a 3-0 victory against Royal Queens. Aderemi Mary, Sunday Juliet, and Juliet Bassey scored for Moses Aduku’s tutored side. Abia Angels and Bayelsa Queens played out a goalless draw on January 19, 2022.
Bayelsa Queens returned home to pick a precious 1-0 triumph over league holders, Rivers Angels with Itimi Mercy on the goal scorers sheet.
After two weeks break, Bayelsa Queens returned to the pitch with a 3-0 result over Sunshine Queens.
Chinyere Igboamalu, Juliet Bassey, and Etim Edidiong scored for the host.
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Delta Queens once again forced Bayelsa Queens to an entertaining 2-2 draw in the return clash. In form Etim Edidiong opened the scoring for Bayelsa Queens before former Confluence Queens forward, Mercy Omokwu equalised for Delta Queens.
Zainab Olapade’s 54th-minute header from a corner kick restored Bayelsa Queens’ lead whole Sarah Nnodim ensured that the host ended the game with a point by scoring an 86th-minute equaliser.
Bayelsa Queens recorded three straight victories over FC Robo Queens (2-0), Royal Queens (0-1), and Abia Angels (5-) before ending the regular season with a 1-0 loss to Rivers Angels in Port Harcourt thanks to Chiamaka Okwuchukwu’s winning goal. Itimi Mercy and Etim Edidiong scored to propel Bayelsa Queens to a 2-0 success against FC Robo Queens.
Etim Edidiong continued her superb goal scoring form by scoring the solitary goal during Bayelsa Queens’ 1-0 away win over Royal Queens FC in Warri. She also scored a goal as her side thrashed Abia Angels 5-0 with former Osun Babes player, Kafayat Bashiru bagging a brace while Precious Vincent and Joy Jerry both converted a goal.
The Yenegoa-based side ended the regular season at the top of Group B with 24 points, and qualified for the NWFL Premiership Super Six alongside Rivers Angels (23 points), and Delta Queens (23 points). Etim Edidiong finished the regular season as Bayelsa Queens top goal scorer with five (5) goals, scoring all her goals in five consecutive games.
Nasarawa Amazons (27 points), Edo Queens (26 points), and debutant, Naija Ratels (18 points) qualified for the Super Six from Group A. Dooshima Tarnum (Nasarawa Amazons) ended the regular season as the top goal scorer in the league with seven (7) goals.
Transfers ahead of Super Six
In preparation for the season-ending and deciding Super Six, Bayelsa Queens acquired the services of some players to beef up the team.
21-year-old FC Robo Queens captain and Super Falcons of Nigeria forward Monday Gift was acquired on loan. Monday Gift scored three (3) goals for FC Robo Queens during the regular season albeit playing few games after returning to the Lagos Landladies in the second half of the regular season.
24-year-old Zambian striker, Natasha Witika was signed from the Tanzanian side, Tiger Queens. Natasha became the first Zambian player to join any club in the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL). Before now, players from neighbouring West African countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast, as well as Cameroon has previously played in the NWFL.
Super Falcons midfielder, Joy Bokiri (23) returned to the team after her stint with the Swedish Allsvenskan side, AIK.
Monday Gift’s 2022 NWFL Premiership Super Six
Bayelsa Queens edged holders, Rivers Angels 2-1 in the opening match of the Super Six. Joy Bokiri scored the first goal of the game for Bayelsa Queens before Rafiat Imuran’s free-kick evened the scoreline. Monday Gift gifted Bayelsa Queens a precious three points with her goal in the 91st minute.
The acquisition of Monday Gift for the Super Six proved to be a good bargain as she scored a hat-trick to power her side to a 0-4 win against Naija Ratels. Monday Gift also scored a brace to help Bayelsa Queens to a 2-1 victory over Edo Queens.
She also scored the lone goal as Bayelsa Queens pipped Delta Queens 1-0 and ended the Super Six with a brace as the Prosperity Girls defeated Nasarawa Amazons 2-1. She scored a total number of nine goals in five Super Six games, winning the player of the final match, top goal scorer, and player of the season prize.
Monday Gift is indeed a wonderful gift to Bayelsa Queens as the Prosperity Girls clinched the league title, ending Rivers Angels’ recent league dominance.
The next focus for the team is preparation for the Aiteo Cup (FA Cup) before representing the country at the Zonal Qualifiers for the 2022 TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League. The Prosperity Girls will have to first qualify for the main tournament via the West Africa Zone B Qualifiers. The Nigerian Champions will hope to perform better than Rivers Angels’ First Round exit at the maiden edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League.
Bayelsa Queens will have to put all hands on deck to represent Nigeria well at the continental showpiece.
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I am a huge advocate of Women’s football after covering the Nigeria Women Football Leagues (NWFL) since 2019 which earned me the award as the Journalist of the Season. An unbiased football writer with penchant for women’s in sports and historical analysis.