Nigeria turn attention to World Cup after AFCON triumph

Author: Beatrice Laryea
The Super Falcons celebrating their victory

The Super Falcons of Nigeria last Saturday retained the Total Women’s AFCON trophy after defeating South Africa 4-3 on penalties in the final at the Accra Sports Stadium.

The result leaves Nigeria as nine-time champions having previously won it in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016.

Immediately after conquering Africa for the ninth time, Nigeria’s Swedish coach, Thomas Dennerby, set his sights on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, stating that he wants the team to show class on the global stage as well.

The coach said it was important that the Super Falcons made a bigger impact at the eighth World Cup appearance, noting that the team had the potential to go beyond the one-eighth stage, which was the farthest they had gone in their previous world Cup appearances.

“We want to keep on having the standard of the team and keep on being the best in the continent but of course you have to be really humble to understand that other teams are working hard to come closer to you so if you want to stay in the position as number one, you need to work hard.

“We need to come together on a regular basis so we can prepare the team very well. Definitely six month from now the World Cup starts so we will do whatever we can to make the greatest impact. That’s the only thing I can promise,” Dennerby said.

Thomas Dennerby

Last Saturday, South Africa enjoyed great ball possession but failed to convert the numerous chances that came their way.

After being stretched by the Bayana Bayana during the regulation time, the Nigerians maintained their nerves during the tie-breaking shootout, with Ngozi Ebere, Rita Chikwelu, Chinwendu Ihueze and Chinaza Love Uchendu all converting their kicks to win the day for Nigeria.

The game started on a fast note with South Africa dictating the pace as Jermaine Seoposenwe fired the first warning with along rage shot from 25 yards out, but Nigeria goalkeeper Oluehi Tochukwu was equal to the task.

Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala responded with a goal-bound header two minutes later which was parried to safety by South Africa goalkeeper, Christen Swart.

In the 72nd minute, Nigeria had a golden chance to score the opener after South Africa goalkeeper Christen Swart fouled Francisca Ordega in the box and were awarded a penalty. However Asisat Oshoala’s kick from the spot went away.

With nothing to separate both teams even after extra time, there came the lottery of penalties and it was Nigeria who converted four of their kicks as against three for South Africa to win the continental competition.