The Super Falcons were looking to start the qualifiers on a high, but they just managed to scrape past Ethiopia
A second-half strike from Rasheedat Ajibade helped the Super Falcons claim a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Ethiopia in the first leg of the 2024 Olympic qualifiers, Soccernet reports.
The Super Falcons returned to action for the first time since they were knocked out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July this year.
They squared off against Ethiopia at the Abebe Bikila Stadium in the round of eight. Randy Waldrum’s ladies were massive favourites to claim the win because of the gulf in quality between both teams and their exploits at the World Cup.
However, they failed to impress. The nine-time African champions lacked chemistry and failed to create chances in the final third.
Barcelona star Asisat Oshoala had a chance to score in the opening embers of the game, but she fluffed her lines. Unfortunately for Nigeria, Ethiopia capitalized on a defensive mix-up and scored the opener in the 7th minute.
The hosts managed to see out their lead until halftime despite the plethora of attacks by the Super Falcons.
In the second half, Nigeria played better, and they managed to get the equaliser in the 52nd minute. Ethiopia cleared a cross from the Super Falcons, but it only got as far as Ajibade, who was just outside the box. The Atletico Madrid star then controlled the ball and sent a wicked strike past the Ethiopian goalie to make it 1-1.
In the 60th minute, coach Waldrum introduced Rofia Imuran and Ifeoma Onumonu in place of Gift Monday and Nicole Payne in a bid to add some bite to the attack. Oshoala was also taken off for Opeyemi Ajakaye in the 80th minute.
It looked like Nigeria had won after Onumonu headed the ball into the net in stoppage time. But the goal was ruled out for offside.
Eventually, both teams shared the spoils after 90 minutes. The second leg will take place in Abuja on October 31.