The nine-time champions returned from the continental championships without a medal for only the second time in history
Super Falcons attacker Rasheedat Ajibade has shared her thoughts about Nigeria’s topsy-turvy campaign at the recently concluded 2022 CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations held in Morocco.
While it was a disappointing outing for Nigeria, it was a historic one for South Africa, who lifted the WAFCON trophy for the first time.
How did the Super Falcons fare?
The Nigerian national team arrived in Morocco as the defending champions, winning the tournament’s last edition in 2018.
An opening day defeat to eventual winners South Africa raised doubts about the Super Falcons’ readiness to defend their crown.
Three consecutive wins over Burundi, Botswana, and Cameroon, however, powered the team to the semifinals.
But that was where the good times ended with the Falcons, reduced to nine women, falling to Morocco and losing to Zambia in the third place match to leave the championship without a medal.
The Falcons, though, secured passage to next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
How well did Rasheedat Ajibade do?
Rasheedat Ajibade was, by some distance, Nigeria’s best player in Morocco.
Despite receiving a red card against Morocco and missing the bronze-medal clash versus Zambia, the Atletico Madrid star finished as the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer with three goals.
Her most important goal was the winner in the 1-0 defeat of Cameroon that secured Nigeria’s ticket to the Mundial.
The 22-year-old blue-haired playmaker was also included in the official team of the championship.
What has the blue-haired girl said?
While it was a good tournament for Ajibade individually, it was a disappointing outing for the Nigerian team.
Morocco 2022 is only the second time in the 12-year history of the WAFCON that the Falcons would exit without any medal.
Ajibade understands the import of such a failure, but she is focused on appreciating her teammates and fans while aiming for better in the future.
She wrote on Twitter: “Where do I begin?
“From the opening defeat vs South Africa, the win against Botswana, scoring the goal that sent us to the World Cup against Cameroon, to the red card against Morocco, and then not being able to help the team against Zambia.
“The WAFCON 2022 was a journey like no one expected, filled with ups and downs, many lessons and memories to last a lifetime. I want to say a big thank you to all my teammates, the Super Falcons.
“I love you girls and I am proud to be a part of this team.
To the fans who showed us love, supported us throughout and backed us even when things didn’t go our way. I am grateful.
“And thanks to God Almighty who blessed me with the talent and gives me the grace to be able to perform at this level.
“Top Goalscorer, Team of the Tournament. Looking forward to what 22/23 has in store.”
The WAFCON 2022 was a journey like no one expected, filled with ups and downs, many lessons and memories to last a lifetime.— Rasheedat Ajibade (@Rasheedat08) July 30, 2022
I want to say a big thank you to all my teammates, the Super Falcons. pic.twitter.com/6bzxBumsAz
Morocco 2022 is Ajibade’s second appearance at the continental championships. The attacking midfielder was part of the Super Falcons squad that claimed the WAFCON trophy in Ghana four years ago.