The Super Falcons were on course to claim a tenth continental title, but the Atlas Lionesses ended their hopes
The Super Falcons of Nigeria were knocked out of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after they suffered a 5-4 penalty shoot-out loss to Morocco in the semifinals.
Nigeria were close to a tenth WAFCON title, but they had two hurdles to cross before achieving their aim.
They fixed a date with host country Morocco after beating Cameroon 1-0 in the quarterfinals. However, the Atlas Lionesses were not the only ones to battle. Nigeria also had to cope with the Moroccan fans.
The game was balanced from the start with chances falling to both sides. However, they saw out a goalless draw into the break.
The drama started in the second half. Super Falcons midfielder Halimatu Ayinde was sent off after a VAR review. The Eskilstuna midfielder was given her marching orders for stamping on a Moroccan player.
Still, the game grew more intense with gilt-edged chances falling to both sides early on.
The Super Falcons soon took the initiative despite the disadvantage. Rasheedat Ajibade had a superb run into the Moroccan area and played a cross to find Ifeoma Onumonu who finished with a great header that came off the upright.
Nonetheless, Uchenna Kanu applied pressure and pounced on the rebound, causing Yasmin Mrabet to score an own goal and put the Super Falcons ahead after 62 minutes.
Unfortunately, Nigeria were on the receiving end four minutes later.
Moroccan forward Ayane swung in a low cross, but goalkeeper Nnadozie spilled the ball when she attempted to catch it. And Sanaa Mssoudy was on had to tap in the ball unmarked.
The Super Falcons’ woes were further compounded when star forward Ajibade was also handed a straight red card for a poor tackle.
With nine women on the pitch, the nine-time African champions proved their worth, defending brilliantly. The Atlas Lionesses struggled to break Nigeria down and it ended 1- 1 in regulation time.
Extra time was all Morocco, as they poured attack upon attack on the Super Falcons. But Nigeria repelled everything that was thrown at them.
Monday Gift was close to sealing the victory for Nigeria, but her thunderous shot hit the crossbar.
The Super Falcons dragged the game to penalties, unfortunately, it did not favor them.
The Atlas Lionesses converted all five of their spot kicks. But Nigeria missed one of their penalties as Onumonu’s kick was saved.
It ended 5-4 with Nigeria losing. Yet, it was a great display from the women. The Super Falcons will play the third-place game against Zambia.
Meanwhile, by their win, Morocco will play against Soth Africa in the finals.