The Atlas Lionesses beat the Nigeria women’s team 5-2 in penalties after a one-all draw in 90 minutes + extra time on Monday, in the semi-final of the Total Energies WAFCON 2022 in Rabat Morocco at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.
The super falcons sought a 10th title while coming into the game, as Morocco national women’s team was seeking to attain their very first appearance in the final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, and the latter surely made it.
The match will go down as the hottest contest there has been so far in the tournament, gathering over 45562 fans in the stands and the Super falcons of Nigeria holding down a fully charged and impressive Morocco at home grounds despite being numerically disadvantaged.
The Lionesses had a bright start as they came close to getting an early opener but were answered with a good run by Ifeoma Onumonu on the right flank who met with no support at the front despite her exceptional delivery into the box.
A reckless play in the Moroccan defense almost had them punished in six minutes to halftime but Nigeria’s Christy Uchiebe went wide failing to put the ball on target as both teams ended the first half goalless.
In the second half, Halimatu Ayinde was given matching orders after a VAR check for a reckless tackle on Annie Ayane, reducing the Super Falcons to 10 players.
A good cross whipped in by Ajibade, headed by Onumonu veered off the bar but Kanu was at the right spot for the rebound to get the opening goal for Nigeria later credited to Morocco’s Yasmin Katie Mrabet as an own goal.
Ashleigh Plumptre saved Nigeria with a crucial clearance off the line as the Moroccan Ladies piled more pressure on the Super Falcons birthing an equalizer by Sanaa Mssoudy.
It got dark at noon when Randy Waldrum’s girls were further slashed down to a nine woman squad after centre referee sent off play maker Rasheedat Ajibade for foul play.
The Athletico Madrid star was ruled to have intentionally stepped Zineb Redouani in a tackle by VAR. Ajibade was initially booked with a yellow card but another VAR check for a possible red card saw her exit the pitch before full time.
Gift Monday with Nigeria’s only shot on target in the last 50 minutes was brought in to replace Ngozi Okobi.
Her super shot rattled the cross bar causing an adrenaline rush among the Nigerian supporters.
After 120 minutes of play time, Morocco 1-1 Nigeria was the score pushing the game into penalty kicks in a tense atmosphere.
Ayani came through with Morocco’s last kick that fired the atlas lionesses into the final to face South Africa.
Evidently, flashing lasers at players and officials has gradually become a norm during football games in Africa as it once again surfaced as the Nigerian players took their penalty kicks yesterday.