Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Nigeria edge out Banyana in Olympic qualifier

The SABC were unable to show the match live on television.

Banyana Banyana have been left with plenty of work to do to qualify for this year’s Paris Olympics after losing 1-0 to Nigeria on Friday in the first leg of their final qualifier at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja.

A penalty from Super Falcons captain Rasheedat Ajibade was enough to give Nigeria a narrow victory to take to Loftus Stadium for Tuesday’s second leg.

Desiree Ellis’ side will still have high hopes of turning the tie around in Tshwane, with a victory by two goals on Tuesday enough to take them through.

There was disappointment before the game for South African football fans, with the South African Broadcasting Corporation announcing at the last minute that it was unable to show the game live on television.

The South African Football Association explained in a statement on their website that “We were not able to secure the feed from the host broadcaster in Nigeria on a reciprocal basis that would have been shared with our partner in South Africa (the SABC)”.

Banyana fielded a strong side in Abuja, with Thembi Kgatlana partnering Jermaine Seoposenwe in attack, while Refiloe Jane captained the team from midfield and veteran Noko Matlou started alongside Bongeka Gamede in central defence.

As for the Super Falcons, star striker Asisat Oshoala was only on the bench after she only arrived in camp the day before the game.

In the early stages it was Mexico-based striker Chinwedu Ihezuo who had the best chances for the home side, putting a Jennifer Echegini pass wide of Kaylin Swart’s goal in the 5th minute, and then heading a Chidinma Okeke cross just off target in the 18th minute.

Penalty given

Nigeria went in front in the 42nd minute as Matlou was adjudged to have fouled Ihezuo inside the box. Super Falcons skipper Ajibade stepped up and beat Swart from the spot.

The Super Falcons continued to press after the break and Ajibade supplied Uchenna Kanu with a chance, but she couldn’t hit the target.

Banyana finally threatened the Nigeria goal as Seoposenwe unleashed a shot from outside the box but Super Falcons ‘keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie made a good save.

In the 70th minute, Ellis made her first change of the match, taking off Hildah Magaia and bringing on Noxolo Cesane.

Banyana made a double substitution in the 84th minute, with Bambanani Mbane and Nomvula Kgoale coming on for Karabo Dhlamini and Refiloe Jane. 

Seoposenwe put another chance over the bar in the final minute, but Banyana were unable to grab a precious draw.