Nigeria withstood numerous adversities earlier than narrowly shedding to host nation Morocco after penalty shoot-out, in a supercharged 12th Ladies Africa Cup of Nations semi remaining match in Rabat on Monday.
A complete of 45,562 spectators turned the Complexe Prince Moulay Abdellah right into a boiling cauldron, and solely their expertise, guts, grit and dedication saved the nine-time African champions firmly within the recreation as their each transfer was booed whereas the Lionesses have been roared on the second they’d the ball.
The Lionesses, who final performed on the Ladies AFCON 22 years in the past, earlier than the present finals that they’re internet hosting, began like a home on hearth and pegged the Falcons to the rear within the early minutes. However gangling Ifeoma Onumonu ought to have given Nigeria the lead within the 13th minute when she was brilliantly arrange by Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene.
Three minutes later, Okobi once more confirmed good anticipation to truncate the Moroccan surge, and arrange Onumonu, however the ahead once more didn’t make hay.
Within the 34th minute, Okobi deftly intercepted once more on the fringe of the field, however her effort screamed away from purpose.
Admittedly, the Lionesses have been snug on the ball with glorious management and crisp passes, with captain Ghizlane Chebbak, Sanaa Mssoudy and the precocious Fatima Tagnaout threatening the Nigeria purpose once in a while as they weaved swiftly in regards to the pitch.
Three minutes into the second half, Mauritian referee Maria Rivet stopped play for a VAR verify, solely to return and hand a crimson card to midfielder Halimat Ayinde. The choice shocked the Tremendous Falcons, who had been been challenged by lasers centered on their eyes by spectators, however they refused to collapse to onslaught after onslaught by Mssoudy, Tagnaout, Yasmin Mrabet and Rosella Ayane.
Within the 52nd minute, captain Onome Ebi saved on the road with goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie stranded, and it was the flip of Ashleigh Plumptre to do similar two minutes later as Ebi crashed into Nnadozie in one more invasion by the Lionesses.
Within the 55th minute, Rasheedat Ajibade’s pull-out was plucked by goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi, however seven minutes later, Nigeria have been forward after Ajibade twisted, turned and crossed for Ifeaoma Onumonu to powerfully head towards the upright. The melee noticed Yasmin Mrabet flick the ball into her personal web.
Morocco have been stage solely 4 minutes after, when Nnadozie didn’t take care of a cross by the ever-present Tagnaout and Mssoudy gratefully slammed into the online.
Within the 71st minute, Rivet once more stopped play for a VAR verify, and this time handed Rasheedat Ajibade a crimson card, decreasing the Falcons to 9 girls.
Nnadozie made a dozen saves in direction of the top and within the ensuing additional time, with the Lionesses in all places, however Nigeria might have received it when Reward Monday beat the hosts’ defence on the counter and crashed a well-measured shot towards the crossbar, just for the ball to roll out.
Within the penalty shootout, ahead Ifeoma Onumonu missed for Nigeria as Rita Chikwelu, Regina Otu, Ashleigh Plumptre and Reward Monday scored. Morocco scored all their kicks, via Yasmin Mrabet, Ghizlane Chebbak, Zineb Redouane, Nesryne El Chad and Rosella Ayane.
Morocco will tackle South Africa (1-0 winners over Zambia within the first semi remaining) in Saturday’s remaining in Rabat, whereas the Tremendous Falcons tango with the Copper Queens of Zambia for the bronze medals in Casablanca on Friday.