The Falcons of Nigeria on Tuesday defeated the Three Lionesses of Cameroon to qualify for the final of the 2018 African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON).
The match started with Cameroon showing power in front of goals but they failed to convert their chances. The Nigerian side was seen playing the ball on the ground while the Cameroonians enjoyed the aerial balls.
The match dragged on to extra time but still no goals from either side. Nigerian then showed their class in the penalty shootout as they converted 4 while Cameroon lost 2
Coach Thomas Dennerby of Nigeria said in an interview after the match: “It was a game we expected to be difficult and it proved to be nothing short. I feel the fans loved every bit of it despite it going 120 minutes without a goal. My team started the game on the back foot, especially in the first 15 minutes as Cameroon dominated. But we quickly regrouped and came back into the game”
“Both teams played well and sold a good game out to Africa and the rest of the world. The penalty shootout was one that we have been practising at training for some time now and today the players executed it to perfection”
“For now we celebrate and prepare for the final match on Saturday. We are happy that we have won the game and picked one of the three tickets to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Like I said yesterday, now that we have that out of the way, the next target is retaining the trophy.”
In the other semi-final, South Africa continued their good form in the tournament against Mali. Goals from Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana in the first half and Lebohang Ramalepe in the second half sealed their place in the final and a first-time qualification to the FIFA women’s World Cup in France. The match ended 2 nil in favour of South Africa.
Reacting to the match, the head coach of South Africa Desiree Ellis said: “We knew Mali was going to be a tough match and as usual our analysis was spot on. We made sure that we neutralise the players we thought would pose any danger to us. I felt we were always in control, moments in the second half. I spoke about it in the dressing room that we needed to stay focused and also make sure we didn’t lose possession. And also made sure we don’t do silly mistakes but we always in control and got the second goal with few minutes to the end”
She continues: “We knew that we had accomplished what we wanted to do and that’s going to the World Cup. This is not about this team only. This is about all of South Africa. This is about all the coaches there before. About all the players who have been there before. It is also about the Football Association. We wouldn’t have been anywhere if they weren’t on board. They have tremendous in the preparations we have had over a year. They made sure we made the best preparations possible”
“We will celebrate tonight and start preparing for the final. We are not a team that talk much in the media. We will work together as a team and plan again. And hope to execute the plan because that’s all it is about. We have never won the Women’s AFCON and we are going to give it shot and see what happens on the weekend,” she added.
Cameroon will now face Mali for the third ticket to the World Cup and for Bronze medal of the Awcon.