Nigeria’s female national team, Super Falcons face an early exit from the African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana, following their opening group 1-0 loss against South Africa.
With two-time winners, Equatorial Guinea also lined up to face the defending champions in Group B of the competition, footballlive.ng reports that the Falcons will now just have to dig very deep to scale through into the semi-finals.
AWCON 2018 also stands as Africa’s qualifiers for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, but Nigeria’s squad now face the ignominy of missing out on that as well, since only the top three teams will pick tickets.
The situation is dicey for Thomas Dennerby and his lasses, as they stand to set two ignorable records – first time Nigeria will crash out in the group stage and first time Nigeria will miss the Women’s World Cup.
This arises sequel to a shock victory for Banayana Banyana against the Falcons in Cape Coast, Ghana, just a day after both country’s male teams had played out a 1-1 draw in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Johannesburg.
While Nigeria held bragging rights from Saturday’s game at Soccer City, from which the Super Eagles qualified for the AFCON 2019 with a game to spare, despite having lost the first leg 2-0 at home in Uyo, the ladies turned odds on their head with a shock result in Ghana.
It was only the second win by South Africa in 11 fixtures against Nigeria at this level, after Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana scored a brilliant match winner for the South Africans.
France-based striker Desire Oparanozie ought to have given the Falcons the lead after half an hour after she fluffed an open chance after she was set up by Asisat Oshoala, three-time African Female Footballer of The Year.
The Falcons, eight time champions in previous ten editions of the tournament dominated the first Group B game of the Nations Cup from kick off.
Early signs of a capitulation showed when the South Africans were gifted two chances to score in the first half after some sloppy defending, but they failed to punish the Nigerian.
Nigeria’s first chance to score came in the 33rd minute when Oshoala teed up Oparanozie but the top scorer at the last edition of the Nations Cup blasted the ball wide.
South Africa’s Jermaine Seoposenwe was close to opening her goals account just before the half time break but Osinachi Ohale cleared the ball bravely as the Bayana Bayana striker was set to strike the ball inside the Nigerian box.
Oparanozie spurned another chance four minutes into the second half to give Nigeria the lead after her diving header went wide following a promising build up.
Kgatlana then broke the deadlock with six minutes to go as she pounced on a beautiful pass into the Nigerian box and unleashed an unstoppable shot beyond Tochukwu Oluehi.
The Falcons will now have to defeat Zambia and Equatorial Guinea to guarantee passage to the semifinals and opportunity to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.