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Super Falcons breaks 16 years jinx land in Paris

Super Falcons breaks 16 years jinx land in Paris

Nigeria accomplished a glorious return to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament after 16 years, following an impressive all-round performance in Pretoria on Tuesday night that stifled South Africa and rendered their home advantage a nullity.

The reigning African champions, who had boasted that Nigeria’s one-goal win in Abuja on Friday would be swiftly cancelled within the first quarter-hour, sped off the blocks at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium but found a resilient Super Falcons unwilling to give an inch.

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Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was called upon to save from a deep-flying corner as early as the third minute, but in a back-and-forth theme that characterized the entire game, Nigeria was on the front foot immediately after, with Chinwendu Ihezuo seeing her headed ball caught by Kaylin Swart after a cross by captain Rasheedat Ajibade.

Ihezuo failed to connect with a header to Osinachi Ohale’s dipping free-kick in the 27th minute, but then Nigeria breathed better when Thembi Kgatlana made a hash of an opportunity as the Banyana broke forward.

In the second half, Linda Motlhalo, Jermaine Seoposenwe and Nomvula Kgoale proved a handful for The Pride of Africa, as they seized the midfield and got a couple of good passes to their danger-lady, Kgatlana. But at all times, Ohale, Chidinma Okeke, Christy Ucheibe and goalkeeper Nnadozie were alert and unruffled.

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Nnadozie, who plays for Paris FC in France, further enhanced her reputation and market value with great saves in the 70th and 86th minutes. In-between, Ihezuo’s flicked header to an Ajibade in-swinger went narrowly away.

The one-goal win on aggregate means the Falcons will participate in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament for the first time since 2008, and will join Brazil, Spain and Japan in a potentially-explosive Group C in July.

“We did it! We did it! We are finally going to play in the Olympics,” Ajibade said excitedly at the final whistle.

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