Nigeria’s Super Falcons on Saturday defeated South Africa 4-3 in a penalty shot-out to win the Africa Women Cup of Nation AWCON for the records of ninth times.
The final of the 2018 edition played at Accra Sports Stadium, in Ghana witnessed a skilful, creative, energetic and technically –know-how from both teams.
In 20 years of its existence, reigning champions Nigeria have dominated the Women AFCON to an embarrassing degree, with only Equatorial Guinea breaking their clean sweep on only two occasions.
Opportunities were few and far between in a tight and cagey game in the Ghanaian capital. Both teams watched each other’s heels closely. Eventual Woman-Of-The-Match, Francisca Ordega on the Nigerian side, and top scorer Thembi Kgatlana on the South African side, came close with sweet touches in the closing stages of the first half, and just before interval, Rasheedat Ajibade should have done better as the ball spilled to her from a corner kick.
In the 48th minute, Ordega blasted a good chance over the bar, and 14 minutes later, Ngozi Okobi’s good move and pull –out was overhit. In the 75th minute, Ordega ran determinedly onto a brilliant pass from Okobi, but was scythed by goalkeeper Christen Swart. Zambian referee Gladys Lengwe awarded a penalty, but Oshoala screwed her shot and it went away.
Okobi and Ordega would miss chances late on, and substitute Nompumelelo Nyandeni came close with five minutes left but goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi, excellent throughout, was on call.
Oluehi would save from Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo in extra time, just as Oshoala watched a good shot stopped by Swart.
In the shoot –out, Onome Ebi missed Nigeria’s first kick, hitting the upright, but after Alice Matlou and Ngozi Ebere netted, Lebohang Ramalepe booted her effort wide. Rita Chikwelu and Nyandeni scored, as did Chinwendu Ihezuo and Mamello Makhabane, but after Chinaza Uchendu found the roof in a cool manner, Motlhalo watched in agony as Oluehi stretched to stop her kick and hand Nigeria the trophy.
Meanwhile, the Super Falcons won the first five editions (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006) in the competition before they were dislodged in the semi-finals by hosts, Equatorial Guinea in their sixth attempt (2008), who went on to defeat South Africa 2-1 in the finals.
Also, the Falcons won the last two editions – 2014 and 2016 – defeating Cameroon on both occasions in the final.
However, coach Dennerby led team, on Tuesday earned an automatic ticket to next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in France after defeated Cameroon 4-2 in the penalty shot out.