These are the moments that the Super Falcons will always cherish and never forget. They gave everything and finally, when it was all done, they had their ninth AWCON title in their possession.
It was a rare form of euphoria on a night when the Falcons united despite the fact that dependable defender Onome Ebi missed the first kick in the shootouts.
What happened was extraordinary with Tochukwu Oluehi proving her mettle with an extraordinary heroic form at the Accra Sports Stadium.
This may not be the most exhilarating Falcons team but nobody can dispute their resolve because those final dramatic moments told only part of the story on a night when they won 4-3 on penalties.
What should not be overlooked is that South Africa are formidable opponents on this ground, with four wins before the final. They played with great adventure, attacking from the flanks. On one side, Linda Motlhalo was an indefatigable opponent, picking up the ball from deep positions and driving forward. On the other, Bambanani Mbane was a constant menace.
Nigeria had to endure some intense pressure. Not quite as relentless as the the semi-final against Cameroon but fairly unremitting all the same. Once again, they had to defend with great togetherness and commitment and their opponents were left to wonder how on earth they had not turned their superiority into goals.
Nigeria may not have offered a great deal going forward but they played as though affronted by the suggestion that Desire Oparanozie’s absence would play a critical part.
Their tactics were epitomised by Josephine Chukwunonye’s involvement on the right side of defense, often doubling up in close proximity to the right winger. In midfield, Ngozi Okobi curbed her natural attacking instincts to play a more conservative role alongside Halimatu Ayinde and Rita Chikwelu.
Francisca Ordega was a brilliant at both flanks with her dangerous cutbacks and mobility.
Coach Thomas Dennerby had set up the Falcons to play very much as the “away” team, meaning Asisat Oshoala was often isolated in attack.
With nothing to separate both teams even after extra time, there came the lottery of penalties and it was Nigeria who converted four of their kicks as against three for South Africa to win the 2018 Africa Women’s Championship.
The result leaves Nigeria with nine titles (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2018).
Stand up for the champions! The Super Falcons won it against all odds.