Super Falcons goalkeeper, Tochukwu Oluehi was once again the hero as Nigeria defeated Banyana Banyana of South Africa to lift her 9th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) trophy in Ghana.
After the opening matchday loss to South Africa, the Falcons insisted it was going to be a different ball game in the final with their pedigree as African champions at stake. The South Africans on the other hand believed they could make history twice in the competition having qualified for the World Cup for the first time in their history.
So it was poised to be a difficult game between two very determined teams.
The game began with some nervy and shaky moments but soon stabilised as both teams settled into the encounter. Again, the Super Falcons could not keep hold of the ball as their play was characterised with misplaced passes for the majority of the game. But the Super Falcons defence stood out as always.
Onome Ebi especially frustrated Kgatlana Thembi giving her absolutely no room to operate or run at Oluehi in goal. However, in the 73rd minute, Francisca Orderga won Nigeria a penalty after she was brought down by the Banyana Banyana goalkeeper but Asisat Oshoala failed to convert; placing her penalty just wide of the post.
Nigeria then gained more control of the game towards the end of regulation time and even in extra time as both teams went in search of a winner but the Falcons couldn’t make their dominance count. Hence, it was all done to penalties as Africa waited for who will be crowned champions of the 2018 AWCON.
Like she did against Cameroon, Onome Ebi stepped up but this time missed and this gave the South Africans some sort of belief especially after converting their first.
Scorer of the winning penalty against Cameroon, Ngozi Ebere stepped up to score for the Falcons as South Africa blasted over their second to level the score. Both teams then went on to score the next two before Oluehi made the crucial fifth penalty save after Chiwendu converted the final penalty for the Falcons to hand them their 9th AWCON title in Ghana.
Speaking on her penalty save, Tochukwu Oluehi said: “I just said let me give my best which I did for the last one, because today I didn’t get it right that much but I still tried to save the last one and that really gave me joy.
Explaining why she dived in the same direction depsite missing out on previous penalties. “When she (Motlhalo) was coming to take the last one I had it in my mind that if I don’t save this one then it’s over. So my mind told me to maintain the same direction I’ve been going and that’s how I was able to make the save,” the Rivers Angels goalkeeper said.
In addition to winning the 11th edition of the AWCON, Oluehi and Onome Ebi were named in CAF best XI for their impressive performance thorughout the tournament.