Nigeria’s Super Falcons and nine-time African champions beat the Lady Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 in Abidjan on Wednesday evening to qualify for this year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Championship to take place in Morocco. The scoreline meant an aggregate 3-0 win for Super Falcons.
The Ivoirians threw everything into the return leg encounter at the Stade Robert Champroux, but met a solid Super Falcons defence and an inspired goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, who would not give an inch.
The game flowed back and forth for large swathes of the first half. Super Falcons Coach Randy Waldrum made two changes to the starting line-up from the first leg, bringing in midfielder Regina Otu and forward Francisca Ordega.
Ordega gave Nigeria the lead halfway into the first period, but the Nigerien referee ruled it out.
In the 34th minute, Nigerien referee Zouwaira Souley awarded a penalty to Cote d’Ivoire after judging that Ashleigh Plumptre had tripped an Ivorian striker in the Nigerian area. Goalkeeper Nnadozie saved the shot, and the contact from the same player off the rebound went into side-netting.
The Super Falcons dug their feet into the ground in the second half, refusing to give the Lady Elephants any leeway. Veteran Captain Onome Ebi, Osinachi Ohale and Michelle Alozie all held their ground as the Elephants increased their onslaughts.
A minute to the end, Esther Okoronkwo, winning only her second cap for Nigeria scored the back-breaker that confirmed a 3-0 aggregate win for the Super Falcons.
Victory and qualification for Morocco 2022 was sweet revenge over the Lady Elephants, who bumped the Super Falcons on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.