Supporters across Africa have joined to praise Nigeria’s Super Falcons despite losing 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regular and extra-time to hosts Morocco in the semi-finals of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.
The Super Falcons’ journey was ended at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay-Abdellah in Rabat when striker Ifeoma Onumonu missed the decisive kick after the Atlas Lionesses goalkeeper Khadujah Er-Rmichi guessed right to save her effort.
This was after Nigeria had played the last 30 minutes of the thrilling game plus extra-time with nine players, after Halimatu Ayinde and Rasheedat Ajibade were red carded in the 48th and 70th minutes, respectively.
Fans have taken to social media to commend Nigeria’s gallant fight, insisting the Super Falcons were robbed by the match officials and deserved to reach the final.
“Morocco won but Nigeria won our heart,” said Evakeys Denis Yaah while reacting to a post on a Facebook page, while Ayomide Ojo wrote: “The girls gave their all,” adding: “If this Moroccan team were any good, they should have won playing against nine for 50 minutes.
“Final or no final, the Super Falcons are the best team in African women’s football.”
“It was an incredible run from the Super Falcons,” said Temi Dayo accompanying his comment with the fire emojis. “They are wonderful, they are massive, they are passionate, they are the best in Africa.”
Ayotollah Ruhullah Muhammad Ali said: “Nigeria tried, despite all odds and managed to reach that level. Moroccans were actually not bad players and they were lucky,” while T Daniel Flames opined: “Nigeria women holding on with two players down is something rare you will see… they deserve to win but penalties cannot be predicted.”
Akintade Ayobams praised the Super Falcons and compared them to their men’s counterpart, the Super Eagles: “We were down to nine women,” started Ayobams adding: “In fact these Nigerian girls should be called the Super Eagles while the boys should be called Falcons.”
He went further to explain his thinking behind the name change: “If the Super Eagles are down to 10 men, they start giving up.”
Meanwhile, another set of supporters blamed Nigeria’s defeat to poor officiating and bias from African body CAF towards the host nation.
“It explains why Africans hardly go far in world tournaments,” stated Catier Ishaya Paul, adding: “You always see some favours given to the host team for the huge amount they spend to host the competition but it’s a disgrace to see it become so obvious in the field of play… truthfully Nigeria was a better team tonight.”
Udeme Sato wrote: “For what just happened to the Nigeria team tonight [Monday], it’s obvious that Africa football will never get better till God comes.
“It is so shameful.”
“This is really painful… God punish Caf officials and that referee,” wrote Darius Dunamis, while Ejikeme Igwe opined: “Nigeria robbed! Zambia robbed! CAF is fixing her competitions.”
Augustine Kapembwa wrapped up the debate: “African football is a disgrace, it’s like these matches are decided by Caf and referees, from the inception they know whom they want to win the competition, poor officiating and that’s why these teams won’t perform well at World Cup because everything is compromised.”
Nigeria will face Zambia in the third place play-off while Morocco will take on South Africa in the final with both teams looking to clinch the title for the first time.
…Zambia call for replay of semi-final after VAR penalty (2)
Zambia’s football association (Faz) has requested a replay of its Women’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against South Africa, citing complaints about refereeing decisions.
The Copper Queens were beaten 1-0 on Monday after Linda Motlhalo converted a contentious 94th-minute penalty, which was awarded following a video assistant referee (VAR) check.
Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse consulted her pitchside monitor and decided that Martha Tembo had fouled Jermaine Seoposenwe.
Zambia coach Bruce Mwape queried the purpose of VAR after the match, while the country’s President Hakainde Hichilema said it was a questionable penalty.
Faz has lodged an official complaint with Wafcon organisers the Confederation of African Football, highlighting six key incidences as grounds for a replay.
“We wish to contest the decision of the referee to award such a penalty as we call for a serious review of the game,” Faz’s letter of appeal said.
“We call for the penalty to be cancelled, that a replay be ordered and that the referee be barred from handling any [further] games.”
Faz general secretary Adrian Kashala added that Zambia had also “noted with great concern the poor officiating that characterised the tournament”.
Mwape was very disappointed with the way the penalty was given and that the VAR decision was harsh on his frustrated players.
“In the future, people will start saying it will be pointless to have referees if the cameras can decide,” he told Tidesports source.
“They should just be firm, because it’s high time the referees improved in terms of officiating games.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was also critical of the officiating as the Super Falcons had two players sent off, both after the intervention of VAR in their last-four defeat on penalties by Morocco.
“The officiating was not really OK,” she said.
Nnadozie also claimed Moroccan fans did everything to distract her side, with Nigerian players targeted by laser pens during their shootout.
“Since I’ve been playing football, this is the worst match I’ve ever played in my life,” she added.
There were no South African appeals when Seoposenwe went over just inside the box in the 89th minute of their game in Casablanca.
Replays showed Tembo had blocked an attempted pass before the momentum of Banyana Banyana forward Seoposenwe took her into the Zambia defender.
Three minutes later, after studying replays, Tafesse deemed the challenge was worthy of a penalty and Motlhalo netted her second goal of the tournament to put Desiree Ellis’ side through.
Mwape admitted that Zambia wasted chances to put the game beyond South Africa, especially in the first half, but he was adamant his side were let down by the VAR controversy.
“Even the assistant also didn’t see anything, so making decisions by VAR sometimes doesn’t augur well,” he added.
“It can be like that [VAR to improve the game], but the rate at which we are going I don’t think it is improving the game.
“I can say this [semi-final] is not the first time we’ve had decisions go against us because even in the other games that we won, some decisions were not the way they were supposed to be.”
Zambia have qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup after reaching the semi-finals at Wafcon, and will now face Nigeria in the third-place play-off at Wafcon on Friday.
Nigeria, Zambia Join WAFCON Train
Nine-time Women’s Africa Cup of Nations winners, Nigeria became the final side to book their place at the 2024 tournament as qualifiers culminated this week.
The Super Falcons came from behind to beat Cape Verde 2-1 away from home, with Rasheedat Ajibade’s injury-time winner clinching a 7-1 aggregate victory on Tuesday.
Barbra Banda was among Zambia’s scorers as the Copper Queens, who finished third at last year’s Nations Cup, thrashed Angola 6-0 at home to complete a 12-0 aggregate win.
However, two-time champions Equatorial Guinea will miss out on the 12-team finals following a 2-1 defeat away against DR Congo which saw the hosts progress 3-2 overall.
Botswana beat Kenya 1-0 to secure qualification for their second consecutive finals. while Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia all sealed their places in Morocco, who will host for the second time in a row.
The dates for the tournament, scheduled for next year, are yet to be announced.
Holders South Africa and Algeria secured their spots on Monday, with Banyana Banyana beating Burkina Faso 3-1 on aggregate and the North Africans sealing a 1-0 win in Burundi to progress 6-1 over the two legs.
Ghana will return to the finals for the first time since 2018 despite losing 1-0 away against Namibia, with the Black Queens going through 3-2 on aggregate.
Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia also failed to win their away ties, but progressed against Egypt, Togo and Congo respectively.
Mali won 3-0 away against Guinea to round off a 10-2 victory overall.
Olowu Targets WABU Crown At GOtv Boxing Night 30
Super welterweight boxer, Taiwo ‘Gentle Boy’ Olowu, on Wednesday , said his target is to claim the West African Boxing Union (WABU) super welterweight title at GOtv Boxing Night 30 on December 26.
The enterprising boxer, who is the national welterweight title holder, will square up to top Ghanaian boxer, Michael Ansah, at the event slated for the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.
Speaking ahead of the fight, ‘Gentle Boy’ boasted that he would ensure the Ghanaian returned to his country empty-handed.
“I aim to add this West African Boxing Union title to my national title. As a national champion, I cannot allow a foreigner to come and take this belt away in front of my fans. This is a big opportunity for me to be a WABU champion. Ansah will leave Nigeria empty-handed,” he said.
The more experienced Ghanaian boxer has a record of 23 wins, 12 defeats, and three draws from 38 professional fights, while ‘Gentle Boy’ boasts 15 wins and one defeat from his 16 professional fights.
In another title fight, Sifon ‘Best’ Iwatt will battle Saheed Azeez for the national super flyweight title.
Also on the card for the night are five other national fights, including a female national cruiserweight challenge fight between national champion, Bolatito ‘Black Tito’ Oluwole and Blessing Abisoye.
Arabambi Ojo and Ibrahim ‘Golden Boy’ Opeyemi will slug it out in a national bantamweight challenge bout; Abdulafeez ‘Big Name’ Osoba will face Christopher Ucheji in a national super welterweight challenge fight, while Ayanfe Adeoye and Ahmed Ganiyu will duel in a national light welterweight category.
Nigeria Makes Final Team Of The Year Award
Nigeria made the final three shortlists for the 2023 Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Women’s National Team of the Year award.
CAF announced the final three shortlist on their X handle yesterday.
The other two countries are reigning Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions South Africa and Morocco.
Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa featured at this year’s FIFA women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The trio all reached the round of 16 at the tournament, which was won by Spain.
The winner will be announced on Monday, December 11, in Marrakech, Morocco.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Super Falcons recently qualified for the 2024 WAFCON, hosted by Morocco.
A 7-1 aggregate win against Cape Verde ensured the Falcons will be making their 13th appearance at the tournament, which began in 1998 in Nigeria.
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