The Super Falcons of Nigeria have apologised to Nigerians for failing to get a win against Equatorial Guinea as was expected of them in the third round, first leg tie of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifier.
The African Champions could only manage a 1-1 draw against continental rivals Equatorial Guinea at the Abuja National Stadium on Saturday and that leaves them in a tight corner going into the return leg.
Though still in mourning mood following the demise of the team’s media officer, Gracious Akujobi, on Thursday, Christopher Danjuma’s charges had planned a comfortable home win to honour the 38-year-old spokesperson but that did not happen. A minute silence was observed for the late, Akujobi.
“We are sorry, Nigerians. We will bounce back in Malabo in the next fortnight,” Super Falcons coach Christopher Danjuma said after the match.
“The girls were psychological down after the loss of their MO on Thursday. I want to promise Nigerians that we are not out of the race to qualify for the Olympic Games.
“We missed the services of some of our keys players, but that’s football, we don’t have to complain.”
Halimat Ayinde put the home side ahead on 27 minutes with a brilliant 24-yard strike which Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper Analucia Nascimto had no answer to.
This was after a string of end to end action with Equatorial Guinea getting their fair share through captain Genoviva Anouma. The visitors almost got an equalizer in the 34th minute when Anouma beat Blessing Edoho to the ball and threads a pass to Nigerian-born Chinasa Okoro, but a timely interception from Nigeria’s skipper, Evelyn Nwabuoku interrupts the move.
The first half ended with Nigeria having the upper hand.
On resumption, Okoro had the first attempt for Equatorial Guinea, blasting the ball from a long range to force a brilliant save from Tochukwu Oluehi.
Francisca Ordega and Desire Oparanozie had their chances to double the Super Falcons’ tally, but the score line remained 1-0 until Chinasa Okoro equalized for Equatorial Guinea on the 62nd minute after capitalizing from Nigeria’s defensive blunder.
With that vital away goal Equatorial Guinea have a slight edge ahead of the second leg which comes up on August 2.
After the match, Equatorial Guinea coach, Miguel Angel Polanco, said:
“The match was very difficult because we played a good team like Nigeria. We scored and played 1-1. It’s good for us.”
“The second leg will be great. In our country we will perform better and qualify for the next round.”
The Super Falcons who missed out of the London Olympics will have to do all they can to remain in the race to Rio.
Evelyn Nwabuoku of Nigeria:
“The key is belief, that’s what we will be holding on to in the second leg match in the next two weeks.”
“We can win away from home, I believe in this team, we will give Equatorial Guinea a game match in Malabo.”
“On behalf of the whole team, we are sorry for the result.”
Genoviva Anouma of Equatorial Guinea:
“Nigeria is a very good nation, the best in Africa. We enjoyed our game, in Malabo we will consolidate and qualify for the next round.”
Tochukwu Oluehi 1, Blessing Edoho 2, Evelyn Nwabuoku 14, Osarenoma Igbinovia 4, Jegede Joy 5, Ohale Osinachi 3, Okobi Ngozi 10, Ordega Francisca 17, Desire Oparanozie 9, Nku Cecilia 13, Ayinde Halimatu 12
Reserves: John Charity 16, Ebere Ngozi 6, Akpa Gladys, Okoronwko Amarachi 7, Wogu Chioma 8, Amanze Mercy 11, Ayila Loveth 18
Analucia Nascimto 13, Andriana Soares 2, Nke Noah Ghyslaine 3, Carolina Martins 4, Ana Christina 5, Bruna Amarante 18, Dorine Nina 9, Genoviva Anouma 10, Jade Boho Sayo 8, Camila Maria Nobre 11, Chinasa Okoro 15
Reserves: Miriam Silva 1, Mendova Abessolo 7, Jumaria Barbosa 14, Martins Christina 6, Andriana Aparecida 17, Dulcia Davi Maria 16, Olive Christelle Ngo 20