Nigeria are through to the final of the WAFU B Women Championship after defeating defending champions Ghana in a penalty shootout 4-2 on Thursday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. www.aclsports.com reports from Abidjan.
Both teams played out an intense 90 minutes, with no victor or vanquished emerging after full-time.
The Black Queens got underway with high pace, keeping the early exchanges in the Super Falcons half, but their back line contained the early pressure, thanks a strong solidarity between the trio Nwabuoku Evelyn, Mary Nunumwen and Chidinma Okeke.
Ghana’s Rita Okyere broke loose and unleashed a scary effort which Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Cynthia parried for a corner-kick by the 12th minute.
Gladys Amfobea and Mavis Owuso mounted a couple of threats on Nigeria’s box but their efforts were futile.
The Falcons improved their showing gradually and began controlling the session by the half-hour mark. Top scorer Uchenna Grace was played through into Ghana box twice but defenders Janet Egyir and Grace Asantewaa impeded the Nigerian each time.
Osarenoma Igbinovia forced a fine move near the Black Queens box but her finish went too soft for goalkeeper Fafali Dumenhasi.
The back and forth run continued until half time with the score at a goalless draw.
Back from the break, Nigeria showed ascendency for a while before falling back to slumber, as Ghana retook possession, firing shots on target but goalie Chiamaka stood firm to prevent any havoc.
By the hour mark, second substitute Wogu Success and Uchenna Grace helped to push the Ghanaians to their back half, as both players multiplied breakout runs that kept the opposing defenders in check.
Uchenna had two clear cut opportunities to break the deadlock but goalkeeper Fafali kept beating the Nigerian to the final ball.
Ghana had a couple of chances too but none was fruitful as the game ended in a goalless draw, opening the way for a penalty shootout.
The Black Queens missed two spot kicks, handled by goalkeeper Chiamaka, while Nigeria successfully transformed four kicks to knock the defending champions out on 4-2.
The Super Falcons will meet hosts Ivory Coast in the final on Saturday while Ghana will play Mali in third place match on same day.