Morocco qualified for the final of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations by defeating Nigeria, who had two players sent off, on penalties in Rabat on Monday.
With the score tied 1-1 after 120 minutes, the North African edged the reigning African champions 5-4 on penalties and will now face South Africa in the final on Friday.
In the keenly contested match played at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, the Lionesses of Atlas began the game on a rampaging note – dominating ball possession as the Super Falcons were made to defend.
The North Africans had the first chance to score, however, Ghizlane Chhiri headed Ghizlane Chebbak’s cross over the bar.
On the other hand, Ngozi Okobi profited from a nice pass from Halimatu Ayinde but shot wide.
Twelve minutes into the game, Okobi set up Ifeoma Onumonu, but before the Gotham FC star could pull the trigger from close range, the ball was cleared away by Levante star Yasmin Mrabet.
Three minutes later, Onumonu had another opportunity to give Falcons the lead – this time Nesryne El Chad was well positioned to prevent her from wreaking havoc.
Notwithstanding the Moroccans’ dominance in the middle, the West Africans fluffed numerous goalscoring opportunities.
First, Uchenna Kanu headed Rasheedat Ajibade’s cross wide before Okobi miskicked a free-kick near the hosts’ goal area.
Three minutes before the half time break, Nigeria had a penalty appeal waved off by referee Maria Rivet after Ajibade was fouled in the box by Hanane El Haj.
In the second half, Reynald Pedros’s side continued from where they left things in the first 45 minutes, while the Falcons were reduced to ten players after enterprising Ayinde was given the marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Rosella Ayane.
The Atlas Lionesses almost took advantage of the Nigerians’ numerical disadvantage with Ashleigh Plumptre forced to make a timely goal-line clearance after Onome Ebi’s shot was diverted towards for her own net.
Randy Waldrum’s side took the lead two minutes after the hour mark courtesy of Mrabet’s own goal.
Onumonu’s header from Ajibade’s cross had hit the crossbar before the 22-year-old bundled Kanu’s rebound past goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi.
That lead lasted four minutes as Sanaa Mssoudy restored parity for the home team. Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie’s save from Annie fell in the path of the ASFAR forward, who slotted the ball inside an empty net.
Things got worse for Nigeria after they were reduced to nine players following Ajibade’s foul on Zineb Redouani.
Morocco completely dominated the game but their major undoing was failing to convert the several begging opportunities that came their way coupled with the brilliance o. Nnadozie.
With nothing to separate both teams after extra time, kicks from the penalty spot were used to determine to the finalist.
During the ensuing kicks, Morocco reigned supreme as Onumonu missed the only kick of the shootout as her shot was saved by Er-Rmichi.