Credit: @PoojaMedia/

…as attention shifts to Pretoria

Captain Rasheedat Ajibade’s well-taken 42nd minute penalty separated nine-time African champions Nigeria and reigning champions South Africa in their Women’s Olympic Football Tournament qualifying match at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Friday night.

Chinwendu Ihezuo was upended in the box just minutes earlier as the Super Falcons broke forward once more, and the Spain-based Ajibade made no mistake in heaving the ball past Kaylin Swart.

Returnee forward Ihezuo was a real pain in the neck for the Banyana, as her pace unsettled their rearguard several times, but Nigeria failed to make hay from dead-ball situations before and after Ajibade’s strike.

In the second half, the Banyana took over the midfield with Linda Motlhalo, Refiloe Jane and Nomvula Kgoale showing pace and invention, but Osinachi Ohale and Christy Ucheibe in the Nigeria central defence closed them down now and again.

Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was called upon to make a world-class save midway into the second half, when Jermain Seoposenwe fired a belter from 20 yards after a good pass from the precocious Thembi Kgatlana.

Substitutes Esther Okoronkwo and Rinsola Babajide added some spark to the Super Falcons’ foreline, but they could not get past the outstanding Kaylin Swart.

Attention has immediately shifted to Tuesday’s return leg at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, where there is still so much to play for with the Falcons only a goal up in the fixture.

The Banyana will fly back to Johannesburg on Saturday morning while the Super Falcons will fly out of Lagos on Sunday night.

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