Captain Rasheedat Ajibade dribbled past a Cape Verde player

By Tunji Faleye

The Super Falcons arrived in Morocco with flair for the 13th Women Africa Cup of Nations after a dazzling performance in the final round of qualification. Nigeria, a dominant force with nine championships, secured their place in the tournament by defeating hosts Cape Verde 2-1, resulting in an impressive 7-1 aggregate victory.

The match at Santiago-Estádio Nacional Cabo Verde in Praia began with an energetic start from the hosts, swiftly attacking the Super Falcons' goal. In the 9th minute, Ivania Tavares Moreira successfully scored, giving Cape Verde an early lead. The Cape Verdean team, sensing an opportunity for an upset, continued their offensive efforts, earning several corner kicks. However, the resilient Super Falcons, spurred on by the support of the Nigerian community in the stands, successfully defended against the onslaught and launched counter-attacks.

Despite the Nigerians gaining control with numerous corner kicks and free-kicks, the score remained unchanged at halftime. In the second half, Coach Justin Madugu made strategic substitutions, bringing in Esther Onyenezide and the proficient Esther Okoronkwo for Peace Efih and Uchenna Kanu. Okoronkwo, recognized for her focus on the field, had a goal disallowed for offside 11 minutes into the second half.

Six minutes later, Okoronkwo redeemed herself by scoring and leveling the match. Captain Rasheedat Ajibade narrowly missed a shot in the 71st minute, and in the 81st minute, substitute Rinsola Babajide's attempt at her first international goal narrowly missed the target. Nevertheless, Ajibade had the final say, scoring three minutes into added time and securing a decisive victory for Nigeria. This commanding aggregate win further solidifies the Super Falcons' reputation as the team to watch in the upcoming finals next year.

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