Champions Nigeria will confront host nation Cameroon in the final of the 10th Women Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.
Cameroon got the better of Ghana in the first semi final at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on Tuesday, with a second half strike, and Nigeria did same against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa at the Stade Omnisports Limbe in the evening.
Top scorer at the last edition of the competition in Namibia, Desire Oparanozie scored her second of the tournament with a bullet shot from a free kick at the edge of the box, to send the Super Falcons into the final for the eighth time in the history of the competition.
Two shots by midfielder Ngozi Okobi in the first half failed to trouble the Banyana goalie, and in the 33rd minute, Oparanozie blasted over from a free kick in a good position, when it appeared easier to open the scoring.
She would make up for that eight minutes into the second half. From a similar position, she opted for a rocket, which took a deflection before flying past Andile Dlamini.
Right back Ugo Njoku bagged a yellow card for time wasting with 11 minutes to go, and nearly scored an own goal four minutes later as she headed a Banyana free kick backwards and goalkeeper Alaba Jonathan had to be alert.
As happened against the Ghanaians in the group phase, Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala was denied what appeared a clear penalty with the clock winding down, but the Falcons held on and will travel to Yaounde for Saturday’s championship match.
For the second successive tournament, it would be Nigeria against Cameroon in the final. At the last edition, the Super Falcons defeated the neighbours to the east 2-0 in Windhoek to emerge champions.
In more ways than one, it would appear that Nigeria and Cameroon are presently the strongest nations in women football in Africa. Both represented the continent at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Canada, where the Indomitable Lionesses reached the Round of 16 as the Falcons exited at group stage.
The Lionesses would have part of the bragging rights going into Saturday’s final, based on that feat in Canada, and also for the fact that they defeated the Falcons in the semi finals at the women’s football tournament of last year’s All-Africa Games in Brazzaville.
If you add the expected capacity crowd that would be cheering the Lionesses on, an explosive match is at hand to determine the current best team in Africa at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.