‘Believe in Super Falcons to Qualify for Paris Olympics’

*Ajibade tells fans as Nigeria battle S’Africa for ticket tomorrow in Pretoria 

Olawale Ajimotokan 

Captain Rasheedat Ajibade has called on Nigerians to have confidence in the ability of the Super Falcons to earn a ticket to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in France.

The senior Nigerian women’s team will battle South Africa in Pretoria tomorrow night in the second leg of the final playoff for one of the tickets available for African countries.

Ajibade’s strike from the penalty spot earned Nigeria a lone-goal victory over Banyana Banyana  in the first leg in Abuja on Friday. There  is all to play for in the return leg  in South Africa’s administrative capital tonight.

The  Atletico Madrid ace said before  Super Falcons departed Lagos for Pretoria yesterday evening that the Nigerian players will be propelled to victory knowing that the faith of over 200 million compatriots  in them remain unwavering.

“We are not under any illusions. It is going to be a big and tough fight. We have 90 minutes standing between us and the long-elusive ticket to the Olympics and we will give it our all.

“We want Nigerians to believe in the Super Falcons. The players are motivated by the keen desire to play in the Olympics. I have played at every tournament you can think of, except the Olympics. The time to do it is now,” observed the Falcons captain.

The players trained in the premises of their hotel on Saturday morning and also  at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Sunday morning before departing Abuja for Lagos aboard an Air Peace flight, to connect their flight to South Africa.

On arrival in Johannesburg this morning, the Super Falcons will  do a one-hour road trip to Pretoria. 

They are scheduled to have the official training at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium by 7.30 pm (6.30 pm Nigeria time) today.

Chinwendu Ihezuo, Jennifer Echegini and Esther Okoronkwo had opportunities to add to the scoreline on Friday evening but were denied by Banyana Banyana goal-tender, Kaylin Swart. She affirmed her reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in African women’s football with some brilliant saves.

Similarly, the Banyana must have realised and appreciated that the reputation of Nigeria’s number one, Chiamaka Nnadozie as one of the world’s best goalkeepers was no exaggeration, as she thwarted them a couple of times that they breached the Nigerian defence. 

Jermaine Seoposenwe was particularly stunned by Nnadozie’s world-class save when she unleashed a belter from 20-yard after receiving a pass from Thembi Kgatlana. Kgatlana herself was foiled on a couple of occasions.

After Friday’s encounter, the Banyana celebrated the low deficit, but Nnadozie said the Super Falcons will play their hearts out inside the 51,000-capacity Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

“The Super Falcons are used to big battles. This one will not be any different. Australia was playing in their home ground at the World Cup but we defeated them,” she recalled of how Falcons edged the Aussie’s Matildas 3-2 in front of their home fans in Brisbane, and thus guaranteed a spot for Nigeria at the Women’s World Cup’s Round of 16.

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