Goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi
Goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi was the heroine as the Super Falcons won their ninth Africa Women’s Cup of Nations title in Ghana on Saturday beating South Africa 4-3 on penalties after full and extra time ended 0-0.
The Rivers Angels goalkeeper saved the last kick from Linda Motlhalo to hand the Nigerians their third successive title and ninth overall.
It’s the second consecutive match Oluehi saved a spot kick, having also saved a kick in the 4-2 shootout victory over Cameroon in the semi-final.
It was the first time in the history of the competition that the final would be decided on penalties.
Nigeria also won the title in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016.
The Falcons were gunning for revenge after losing 1-0 to South Africa in their opening Group B tie.
And they should have taken the lead in the 75th minute but Africa Women’s Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala sent her effort wide from the penalty spot after enterprising midfielder Fransceca Ordega was brought down in the box by Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Christen Swart.
But Ngozi Ebere, Rita Chikwelu, substitute Chinwendu Ihezuo and Chinaza Uchendu converted their kicks while Noko Matlou, Nompumelelo Nyandeni and Mamello Makhabane converted for Banyana Banyana.
Coach Thomas Dennerby changed one player from the line-up that beat Cameroon in the semi-final, with Rasheedat Ajibade starting in place of the injured Desire Oparanozie in attack.
Nigeria dominated play from the blast of the whistle but the South Africans grew into the game as the Falcons struggled to create clear cut chances. Oshoala dribbled past two defenders in the second minute but her tame effort at goal was fumbled by Swart – who had to gather a second time.
Banyana got their first effort on goal in the fifth minute after Christen Kgatlana shot straight at Oluehi.
In the second half, both teams came out with Nigeria threatening more through Oshoala and Ordega on the wings. However, in the 75th minute, after Ordega was brought down in the penalty area, Oshoala shot her effort wide from the penalty spot.
Nigeria then went on the back foot and resorted to long balls in extra time.
Banyana went close to opening scoring in the 103rd minute after Kgatlana went past three defenders but shot straight at Oluehi.
Ordega was voted Woman of the Match – her second of the tournament – while tournament highest goalscorer Kgatlana was adjudged Woman of the Tournament.
Both teams alongside third-place winners Cameroon qualified for next year’s Women’s World Cup in France.
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