*Scores A Backbreaking Goal to Zoom Into AWCON
BARELY midway into the second leg encounter, one of Super Falcons’ exciting players, Ordega, smashed the ball beyond the reach of Cote d’Ivoire’s Lady Elephants goal tender, sure she had sealed the fate of a the host team in its quest for a place at the 2022 African Women Cup of Nations, AWCON.
But it was not to be as Nigerien centre referee, Zouwaira Souley, ruled out the goal to the shock of the Falcons.
The shock was to continue in the 34th minute of the game when the same referee ruled that one of Nigeria’s newest players, Ashleigh Plumptre, tripped the host striker in the box, enough for a penalty kick. However, inspired Falcons’ goal keeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, came to the rescue as she made mincemeat of the ensuing spot kick.
Even then, the Falcons had to put up a real hard fight to ward off the Ivorian ladies’ unrelenting waves of attack after another until Esther Okoronkwo, another new entrant, produced what turned out to be a moral breaking, late minute stunner to end the game 0-1, Wednesday evening, and 0-3 on the aggregate.
With the victory, the Nigerian team, which has won AWCON 11 times, booked its ticket to the 2022 fiesta as Africa’s most successful women’s team of all-time.
Football pundits earlier predicted a tough two-legged encounter between putting into account the fact that the same Ivorian team knocked the Falcons out from appearing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Goal poacher, Asisat Oshoala’s absence was another reason for worry.
But it was sweet revenge for the Falcons as Okoronkwo and Ifeoma Onumonu made it 2-0 in the first encounter at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.