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Paris 2024 Qualifier: Super Falcons Won’t Disappoint Nigerians — Ajibade

Paris 2024 Qualifier: Super Falcons Won’t  Disappoint Nigerians — Ajibade

Rasheedat Ajibade has called on Nigerians to have confidence in the ability of the Super Falcons to earn a ticket to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in France, as the team flies to South Africa on Sunday night for a flaming battle with the Banyana Banyana in Pretoria on Tuesday night.

Ajibade’s strike from the penalty spot earned Nigeria a lone-goal victory over the visitors in the first leg in Abuja on Friday, and even as there is all to play for in the return in South Africa’s administrative capital, the Atletico Madrid ace says the players will be propelled to victory knowing that the faith of over 200 million Nigerians in them is unwavering.

“We are not under any illusions. It is going to be a big and tough fight. For us, we have 90 minutes standing between us and the long-elusive ticket to the Olympics and we will give it our all,”Ajibade told thenff.com.

“We want Nigerians to believe in the Super Falcons. The players are motivated by the keen desire to play in the Olympics. Personally, I have played at every tournament you can think of, except the Olympics. The time to do it is now.”

The players trained in the premises of their hotel on Saturday morning and also trained at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Sunday morning, before departing Abuja for Lagos aboard an Air Peace flight, to connect their flight to South Africa on Sunday Night.

Nine-time African champions Nigeria will arrive in Johannesburg on Monday morning, and then do a one-hour road trip to Pretoria. They are scheduled to have the official training at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium by 7.30pm (6.30pm Nigeria time on Monday.

Chinwendu Ihezuo, Jennifer Echegini and Esther Okoronkwo had opportunities to add to the scoreline on Friday evening, goal Banyana Banyana goal-tender Kaylin Swart affirmed her reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in African women football with some brilliant saves.

Similarly, the Banyana must have realized and appreciated that the reputation of Nigeria’s number one, Chiamaka Nnadozie as one of the world’s best goalkeepers was no exaggeration, as she thwarted them the couple of times that they got past the defence. Jermaine Seoposenwe was particularly stunned by Nnadozie’s world-class save when she unleashed a belter from 20 yards after receiving a pass from Thembi Kgatlana. Kgatlana herself was foiled on a couple of occasions.

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The Banyana celebrated the low deficit after Friday’s encounter, but Nnadozie said the Super Falcons will play their hearts out inside the 51,000-capacity Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

“The Super Falcons are used to big battles. This one will not be any different. Australia were playing in their home ground at the World Cup but we defeated them,” she stated.

The goal-tender was referring to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, when the Falcons edged the Matildas 3-2 in front of their home fans in Brisbane, and thus guaranteed a spot for themselves at the tournament’s Round of 16.

Nnadozie was also in goal when the Falcons overwhelmed hosts Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 in a Women Africa Cup of Nations final qualifying match in Abidjan more than two years ago, and has also been in goal in the two earlier away matches in these qualifying series, in which the Falcons earned a 1-1 draw in Addis Ababa and 0-0 draw in Douala.

Home turf advantage has severally been proved to be a mirage in football, even in the on-going qualifying series, with Zambia defeating Ghana in Accra, Morocco defeating Tunisia 2-1 away, South Africa trouncing Tanzania 3-0 in Dar es Salaam and Morocco also defeating Zambia 2-1 in Ndola in the first leg of their own final qualifying fixture on Friday.

Ajibade added: “At the end of the day, the grass will be green and it will be eleven players against eleven players. We are ready.”

The Confederation of African Football has again picked North African referees for the second leg match, with Tunisian Dorsaf Ganouati as referee and her compatriots Houda Afine and Emna Ajbouni as first assistant and fourth official respectively. Egyptian Yara Atef Saïd Abdelfattah will be second assistant referee.

Agar Mezing from Cameroon will be the referee assessor while Cindy Dludlu from e-Swatini will be match commissioner.

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  • Please, don’t sit back and be defending the one goal aggregate in the return leg.
    Put all your strength and attack them big time. You are super power and not inferior to South Africa girls. Make sure you beat them woto woto in front of their parents.
    You can do it girls. Score as many goals as possible.

    God bless you.

  • “The Banyana celebrated the low deficit after Friday’s encounter.”

    Same thing the Cameroun girls also did after we played 0 – 0 away with them.

    What are these opponents thinking? They have the edge cos SF will be overwhelmed?

  • Part 1

    Chiwendu Iheuzo: The New Agba-Baller of Randy Waldrum

    Exciting Super Falcons Utility Player Rasheedat Ajibade reiterated the desire of the team to grab the Olympic ticket on offer after 90 minutes in the second leg away to South Africa next Tuesday.

    “The players are motivated (to get the job done against South Africa) by the keen desire to play in the Olympics,” said Ajibade.

    Key to getting the job done will be applying pressure to South African defence and then burying begging chances. One player that has won the heart of Waldrum is striker Chiwendu Iheuzo.

    I watched in awe as the American Gaffer waxed lyricals about the Mexico based sharpshooter, going as far as suggesting she delivered the best performance of any centre forward for Nigeria throughout his reign as the Super Falcons gaffer.

    “For me,” said Waldrum on Twitter

    (X), “I think Iheuzo was amazing against South Africa.”

    “I can think of many fine performances from our main centre forwards in games throughout my tenure with Nigeria. However, Iheuzo’s performance in Abuja last week was probably the best I ever witnessed.” gushed Waldrum.

  • Part 2

    For that role, Waldrum has predominantly played Oshoala, Onumonu and Okoronkwo.

    But it will seem as if Iheuzo’s application, tenacity and agency hits the sweet spot for Waldrum.

    “In the match, I loved the way Iheuzo stole behind South Africa’s defence severally. She didn’t give them a minute’s rest. She was relentless and our goal came from her deadly run across 50 yards into the 18 yard box before being fouled for the penalty.”, Said Waldrum.

  • Part 3

    Something that struck me most was when Waldrum said (all paraphrased) :” A lot of our main strikers would not have contemplated that kind of dangerous run that won us the penalty.”

    It will seem to me that Waldrum has seen skills, qualities, attributes and applications in Iheuzo that he hadn’t seen in our other centre forwards. If that is the case, then Iheuzo could have succeeded in throwing down the gauntlet for other centre forwards to attempt to wrestle the starting 11 slot off her.

    • Ihezuo was clearly Waldrum’s joker in that match. As the gaffer said during the presser, the South Africans didn’t know and didn’t prepare for her. Their strength was in quick and incisive 1-2 passes to Seosempewe or Kgatlana that caught defenses off-guard, but they found a match in Ihezuo.

      Ihezuo transformed so much from the last time I saw her in SF’s jersey. She’s more physical, skilled, and faster now. Like the SE, the SF is now being spoilt for choice upfront. However, unlike the SE, they’re also solid in the middle and at the back. Like the SE though, they still lack a clinical finisher upfront.

      I know that after watching the first leg tape again, the South Africans will be prepared for her now. They’ll also change their formation to be attack-minded in Pretoria. Whoever Waldrim chooses to lead the line on Tuesday – Ihezuo, Kanu, Rinsola, Oshoala, Esther – they must never fluff chances. Score first and pile more pressure on them.

      The higher-scoring team takes the day. No away goals. It’s still effectively 1 – 0 with 90 minutes to go.

  • Diran 2 months ago

    I will also advice coach Waldrum and the super falcons to prepare and practice for penalty kicks just in case it has to be decided by the lottery of spot kicks.

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