October 1, 2022

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Ajibade heads Falcons to 2023 Women’s W’Cup

The Super Falcons will make their ninth appearance at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year after they edged their Central African rivals Cameroon 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the ongoing 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

A thumping header from the outstanding Rasheedat Ajibade inside the box, off a delightful cross from Ifeoma Onumonu in the 56th minute, secured a hard-fought victory for the reigning champions, who face hosts Morocco next in the semi-finals on Monday.

It was Ajibade’s third goal of the tournament, making her the top scorer ahead of Morocco’s Ghizlane Chebbak.

The Atletico Madrid forward, who also has four assists to her name, had earlier scored against South Africa and Burundi.

It’s the Falcons’ sixth win in their last six meetings with the Lionesses and their 54th at the competition, which further boosted their hopes of landing a 10th WAFCON title.

The Falcons started the game battling hard to deny the Lionesses any real chances on goal, but they also failed to offer much going forward, with only Francisca Ordega and Ajibade offering little threat on the wings while Ifeoma Onumonu was largely isolated upfront.

Randy Waldrum’s side had a rare spell of possession in the first half and were unable to create any chances from the set pieces they had.

In the second half, the Falcons raised the tempo with Ajibade firing a long-range shot wide. Aboudi Onguene then came close for Cameroon, after she broke through on goal but her effort was off target.

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Four minutes to the hour mark, Ajibade sneaked behind the Lionesses’ defence to head in Onumonu’s cross for the Falcons winner.

Onguene also came close moments later as the Lionesses tried to draw level, but her tame effort went inches off the Falcons upright.

Waldrum brought on Michelle Alozie for the returning Ashleigh Plumptre in the 65th minute, before also introducing midfield duo Uchenna Kanu and Rita Chikwelu for Francisca Ordega and Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene in the 72nd minute to add more steel to his midfield, as the Lionesses continued their search for an equaliser.

The pressure on the Nigerian defence told as goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, in a bid to save a lose ball, suffered a poor challenge from Cameroon’s Michaela-Batya Abam, but the Paris FC keeper was back on her feet minutes later after receiving medical treatment.

Onumonu had a chance to double the Falcons lead in the 84th minute after she broke the Lionesses offside trap but she blazed her shot over the crossbar.