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Tokyo 2020: Nigeria’s women target Olympic football return


After missing out on the 2016 and 2012 Olympic tournaments, the Nigeria Women’s football team is getting ready for the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Coach Thomas Dennerby named 18 local players to be part of a 24-woman team to face Algeria in their second-legged Olympic qualifiers. 

With the squad comprising of 18 locally-based female players, it also featured six overseas players. These players include Ngozi Okobi, Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade, Oshinachi Ohale, Ngozi Ebere, and Francisca Ordega. The six were included in the Nigerian squad for their tremendous success abroad, as the Super Falcons seek to make a comeback to the games having missed out on the 2012 and 2016 tournaments.


During the game hosted in Blida in 28th August, the whole local Super Falcons squad played the first leg of the second qualifier round. This game saw Nigeria emerge victorious with the Super falcons soaring to a 2-0 win against Algeria. The game proved to be a wonderful opportunity for the local girls to prove their worth, with foreign-based stars sitting out due to prior club commitments.

With relentless pressure, the Nigerian women were able to unravel the home team’s defense, which saw the defender conceding an own goal in the 14th minute. However, no more goals were scored in the first period despite the visitors having great possession throughout the game. In the second half, Nasarawa Amazon’s midfielder Amarachi Okoronkwo made punters rooting for Nigeria at happy by scoring the second goal in the 53rd minute. 

The loss by Algeria made it a terrible couple of days for the team which had suffered an agonizing loss against Morocco on Wednesday in Rabat. Thomas Dennerby’s side also took the win on Tuesday in the second leg, defeating Algeria 1-0 to advance to the third qualifier round for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Dennerby changed half of his starting squad from the first-leg game in Blida, creating room for the six foreign players arriving from their club commitments.


During the game hosted at Agege Stadium, the hosts had a great start, but the Oshoala-led attack couldn’t break the Algerian’s defense in the first 15 minutes. That enabled the visitors to take advantage of the home team’s poor cohesion to gain control of the match, though they failed to benefit from it even after having multiple chances in front. However, the African Champions piled pressure on the second half of the match, finding a breakthrough in the 59th minute.

Several minutes later after the first goal, the Barcelona striker nearly grabbed a brace, though her superb loop near the penalty area got stopped by the crossbar. After that attempt, Dennerby’s women didn’t create other chances, though that didn’t stop those who had bet on them at Betway from making a profit. Additionally, Betina Kamel’s side held out strongly to avoid conceding another goal in the late stages of the match.

The Nigerian team will be advancing in the third round of the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers where it will face Ivory Coast. The West Africans fell out of the 2008 and 2000 Olympic football tournaments at the group stage, though they were lucky enough to reach the quarter-finals in 204 in Athens.


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