Nigeria’s U20 girls, Falconets emerged champions of the women’s football tournament of the 12thAfrican Games in Rabat on yesterday after a 3-2 penalty shoot-out triumph over their counterparts from Cameroon.
The keenly-contested game between two teams that had battled to a 1-1 draw in a group phase match eight days earlier, ended 0-0 after regulation and extra time at the Stade Boubker Aamar outside Rabat. Penalty shoot-out followed and the Nigeria U20 girls, one of only four teams to have featured in every edition of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup since the competition started 17 years ago, triumphed.
The victory was the first gold for the Falconets at the African Games in 12 years, having not qualified for the 10th edition in Mozambique in 2011 and finishing outside the medals’ range in Brazzaville four years ago.
It was also a fitting accomplishment to bid bye to the first captain of the Falconets team, Ifeanyichukwu Chiejine, whose remains were committed to mother earth in Lagos on the same day.
The win means Nigeria have won the African Games for the first time since 2007 in Algiers and their third crown in five attempts.
Meanwhile, 1973 champions Nigeria will look to win their first gold in men’s football tournament of the African Games when they take on Burkina Faso in the final of the event in Rabat on Friday.
The seven-time African champions edged a memorable encounter with Mali in the semi finals, which went into extra time, penalty shoot-out and sudden death session before they could be separated.
Burkina Faso’s U20 side also had to endure the gruel of penalty shoot-out to oust Senegal in the second semi final, and Friday’s battle for gold will be no contest for weak bones.