Nigeria’s women football teams had a double delight, one in Algeria and the other in Morocco as one team won 2-0 over Algeria in the 1st leg of the Tokyo 2020 Qualifier while the Falconets won the All Africa Games gold.
In Algeria, the Falcons who are African champions took a big step forward in their Tokyo 2020 Olympics African qualifying first round fixture against Algeria with a 2-0 victory in the first leg in North Africa on Wednesday night.
Head Coach Thomas Dennerby had taken only home-based professionals to the battlefield in Blida, with foreign-based stars opting out due to club commitments. But it proved an opportunity for the home girls to make a statement.
Relentless pressure told on the home team’s defence as a defender conceded an own goal after only 14 minutes, but there was to be no more goal in the first period despite the visiting team enjoying much of the possession.
Nasarawa Amazons’ petite midfielder and former junior international, Amarachi Okoronkwo lashed home in the 53rd for Nigeria’s second, completing a miserable few days for Algerian women football, which also on Wednesday suffered the agony of losing the bronze medal match of the 12th African Games women’s football tournament to host nation Morocco in Rabat.
All Africa Games gold in the bag
The U20 team, known as the Falconets who are playing the All Africa Games emerged champions of the women’s football tournament on Thursday after a 3-2 penalty shoot-out triumph over their counterparts from Cameroon.
The keenly-contested game between two teams that had battled to a 1-1 draw in a group phase match eight days earlier, ended 0-0 after regulation and extra time at the Stade Boubker Aamar outside Rabat.
Penalty shoot-out followed and the Nigeria U20 girls, one of only four teams to have featured in every edition of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup since the competition started 17 years ago, triumphed.
The victory was the first gold for the Falconets at the African Games in 12 years, having not qualified for the 10th edition in Mozambique in 2011 and finishing outside the medals’ range in Brazzaville four years ago.
It was also a fitting accomplishment to bid bye to the first captain of the Falconets team, Ifeanyichukwu Chiejine, whose remains were committed to mother earth in Lagos on the same day.
Meanwhile, victory at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida means the Super Falcons are standing on robust credit ground ahead of Tuesday’s return leg against the Algerians at the Agege Stadium, Lagos as a result of their 2-0 win.