A late goal from Desire Oparanozie in a nail biting final of the 10th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, has ensured that the Super Falcons of Nigeria retain their trophy with a 1-0 victory over the hosts, Cameroon.
With the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium filled to capacity in support of the Indomitable Lionesses, Oparanozie did not succumb to pressure as she slotted home the winner in the 86th minute.
Both sides, who had a history of meeting in two previous finals, the latest being Nigeria’s 2-0 victory over Cameroon in Namibia 2014, finished first in their various groups and went on to defeat South Africa and Ghana respectively to confirm their status as the best two teams on the continent.
After the national anthems were sung, a minute silence was observed for the victims of the fatal plane crash in Medellin on Tuesday. The plane was carrying members of the Brazil Serie A side Chapecoense, who were on their way to play in the Copa Sudamerica finals against Atletico National in Medellin on Wednesday.
It was a match that pitched the tournament’s best attack with it’s best defence, as Nigeria could boast of scoring the highest number of goals in the tournament (12) en route to the final, while Cameroon’s goalkeeper, Annette Ngo Ndom was yet to pick a ball from inside her net.
The best chances of the opening half, however, fell to the Indomitable Lionesses as they enjoyed the full backing of their loud fans, while it seemed like the Super Falcons’ attack had gone blunt.
Cameroon could have gone ahead in as early as the fourth minute but Aboudi Onguene, after dribbling past the trio of Ugo Njoku, Osinachi Ohale and Onome Ebi, sent her effort wide.
Two minutes later, Sonkeng Amarielle’s free kick was punched out for a corner from which Gaelle Enganamouit headed to the top of Alaba’s goal post.
As action swung to the other end, Ngozi Okobi sent her shot towards the sky, before seeing her free kick yield nothing.
The atmosphere grew tense, with Onguene and Madeleine Ngono Mani, having one on one opportunities to give Cameroon the lead but the scoreline remained 0-0 at half time, many thanks to Nigeria’s centre back Osinachi Ohale and goalkeeper Jonathan Alaba.
The second half was a lot more intense and Aboudi Onguene would blame herself for not converting at least one of the many chances she had at her disposal.
Because, the one time the Cameroonian defence actually collapsed, a grateful Desire Oparanozie was on hand to pounce.
Cameroon’s defence was finally breached and Oparanozie, who was the highest goal scorer in Namibia 2014, stabbed the ball beyond Ngo Ndom for her third goal of this year’s edition.
The goal silenced the Cameroonian fans, whose loud cheers subdued those of the Nigerian fans around.
Meanwhile, for her six goals in the tournament, Asisat Oshoala was given the highest goal scorer award.
The result means Cameroon have now lost a third final in the history of the competition, to Nigeria, while Nigeria have now lifted the trophy for the eighth time.