Once again Nigeria’s Super Falcons remain supreme in African women’s football as they beat Banyana Banyana of South Africa on 4-3 penalties after 120 minutes ended goalless in Accra on Saturday.
South Africa head coach Desiree Ellis made one change to the side that defeated Mali in the semi-finals. Busisiwe Ndimeni came in for Jane Refiloe in the startlist.
The title-holders, on the other hand, reshuffled their attack with head coach Thomas Dennerby preferring the forward pair of Asisat Oshoala and Rasheedat Ajibade with Desire Oparanozie dropping to the bench.
Nigeria were off the blocks faster with a build-up from the back involving Onome Ebi, Francisca Ordega, Ajibade and Oshoala who could not put the final ball away beyond South Africa goalkeeper Kaylin Swart.
Jermaine Seoposenwe then responded for South Africa at the other end, but her effort was straight at goalkeeper Oluehi Tochukwu.
The game was played in fragments at times with Ajibade and Oshoala trying to show individual brilliance and pace but often ran into a cul-de-sac against South Africa’s backline. Nigeria’s best attacking moves were initiated by Washington Spirit midfielder Ordega.
The matchup was not just about Nigerians as South Africa also enjoyed a chunk of attacking spells. Leandra Smeda had a great chance to put Banyana in front after catching Oluehi off her line but fired her long-range lob over the bar.
Banyana also threatened through the set-piece of Mamello Makhabane whose attempts on two occasions forced Oluehi into making saves to keep the game scoreless.
Player of the tournament Chrestinah Kgatlana also had her moments in the match including stealing the ball off Nigeria defender Ngozi Ebere who recovered well to clear.
Fifteen minutes to time, Ordega won Nigeria a spot kick when she was upended in the box by Swart who got booked for her offence.
Oshoala who endured a not-too-impressive outing at the tournament dragged the spot kick away from Swart’s goal and that meant the game would go into extra-time.
Both teams failed to score in extra-time — and that meant the Falcons did not manage a goal against Banyana Banyana in the tournament.
For South Africa, Lebohhang Ramalepe missed her kick and Linda Motlhalo had hers saved by Oluehi after Ebi had earlier missed for Nigeria.
Spot kicks converted by Ngozi Ebere, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Chinaza Uchendu and Rita Chikwelu ensured the Falcons claim their ninth title including a third in a row.
© The Predictor NG