Nigeria’s Super Falcons on Saturday in Yaounde, Cameroon clinched its eight African Cup of Nations (AWCON) title by beating hosts, Cameroon in the final of the African Cup of Nations for Women.
A second half strike by Desire Oparanozie, whose lone strike in the semi-final against South Africa, gave the defending champions a 1-0 victory over a determined Cameroon side eager to banish memories of a 2-0 defeat handed them by the Nigerians in the final of the last edition of the tournament, which held in Namibia in 2014.
With the victory, Falcons captain, Florence Omagbemi has become the only individual to win the AWCON as both player and coach.
Oparanozie, who netted the winner in the semi-final victory over South Africa four days earlier in Limbe, again lived up to expectations to silence the deafening home crowd that filled every inch of space at the 40,000 capacity stadium who were rooting for the side. She struck gold five minutes from time.
It was the third time after 2004 and 2014 that Nigeria had beaten Cameroon in the final and it further cements the Super Falcons’ status as the most dominant side in women’s football after previous triumphs in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Yet again it was so near and yet so far for ‘Les Lionnes’ who failed in their bid to break the jinx as far as the ultimate at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations is concerned, and what is more painful is the fact that they lost the title this time in the presence of their teeming fans who had stayed behind the team throughout the tournament.
A repeat of 2014 final, it was Cameroon who will leave to regret after failing to convert numerous goal scoring chances in a game that they were the better side in the first half.
Fans’ favourite Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene and Michele Ngono Mani were guilty of spurning opportunities to put ‘Les Lionnes’ in front especially Ngono Mani who failed to beat Nigeria goalie Alaba Jonathan in a one-on-one situation on 34 minutes after Ajara Nchout Njoya put her through
Earlier, Aboudi Onguene missed a sitter in the opening minutes much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
The second half was no different with Cameroon still failing score whilst Nigeria gradually warmed themselves up into the game.
Minutes later, Aboudi Onguene failed yet to put Cameroon in the lead and Nigeria will soon punish them with their first clear cut chance at goal. Cameroon captain Christine Manie in her bid to clear her lines headed to Oparanozie, who controlled nicely before firing past Cameroon goalie Annette Ngo Ndom for the match winner.