The Nigeria women national team, Super Falcons’ hope of moving to the next round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games African qualifying series was dashed yesterday by Cote D’Ivoire, who held the team to a 1- 1 draw at the Agege Township Stadium, Lagos.
The Cote d’Ivoire team, who held the Super Falcons to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the tie, opened scoring 10 minutes into the game through a nice free kick taken at the edge of Nigeria’s 18-yard box.
After the goal, the Ivoirians continued to pile pressure on the Nigerian side, but Super Falcons’ new captain, Asisat Oshoala capitalized on a fast break from the midfield to get the equalizer in the 40th minute.
When fans thought the Falcons will go on to win the tie on aggregate, their Ivoirians dug in and repelled everything the Nigerians threw at them until the final whistle. And then drama ensued.
The match officials, who were not sure if the away goals rule applied in the encounter, attempted to order a penalty shoot out.
For over 30 minutes, the Nigerian and Cote d’Ivoire players and officials were on the pitch waiting for the final decision of the centre referee to either signal extra time or follow the away goal rules.
The match commissioner had to make numerous calls before the match was awarded to Cote d’Ivoire, who started jubilating, while the Falcons walked out of the pitch disappointed.
According to reports, CAF and FIFA rules conflicted on games tied like yesterdays.
Speaking on the Falcons loss, NFF Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi confirmed that the away goal rules had been applied to give the Ivoirians the game.
“The Ivoirians have won. If we had scored the second goal, it would have been our day. But notwithstanding the result, the NFF will keep making the team stronger the best way we can.
“Currently the Super Eagles are in Camp in Singapore, where they will start training tomorrow.
“Coach Rohr has started mapping out a strategy for the tie, which will give the Nigerian players and coaches an insight into the standard of the team. I cannot talk on the Super Falcons’ foreign coach because it is an official matter,” he said.