Women’s AFCON 2016: Oparanozie fires Super Falcons into final


Nigeria have advanced to the final of the 10th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after defeating South Africa 1-0 at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Tuesday.
The Super Falcons will now travel to Yaounde for a date with the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon who earlier booked their ticket with a 1-0 victory over Ghana.
South Africa’s interim coach, Desiree Ellis tagged it “the final before the final”, and it proved to be that tough after both sides used the first seven minutes to size themselves up.
Afterwards, action swung from one end to the other with Banyana Banyana mounting more of the pressure. Time and time again, their swift build up towards goal rattled the Nigerian defence as Onome Ebi and captain Rita Chikwelu, twice thwarted what should have been a one on one chance for South Africa.
At the other end, however, Ngozi Okobi had her fair share of opportunities for Nigeria. And Desire Oparanozie, who was caged for most part of the first half, fired her freekick way over the bar.
With renewed energy, both sides returned in the second half and Nigeria were a goal up in the 54th minute. South Africa had conceded a freekick at the edge of the box and Oparanozie made no mistake in her bullet delivery.
The goal however, did not dampen the South Africans in their quest for an equalizer and the introduction of Thembi Kgatlana added more bite to their attack as she threatened from the right flank.
A dramatic closing period saw Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Jonathan Alaba, make two quick saves, even as Andile Dlamini, who was in between the sticks for South Africa stopped the Super Falcons from extending their lead soon after.
A relief it was indeed for fans of the Super Falcons of Nigeria when Ethipian referee Lidya Tafesse sounded the final whistle.
South Africa will on Friday battle for third place against Ghana, while Cameroon and Nigeria will slug it out the next day for the African crown.

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