The Super Falcons on Thursday qualified for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years. The Falcons have reached the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup just once before now, a quarter-final appearance in the competition in the United States in 1999.
They will confront former champions Germany in the last 16 of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Grenoble on Saturday.
The Falcons qualified as one of the best losers to the round of 16 after finishing third in Group A behind France and Norway but had to endure a torrid time before confirming their place in the last 16 of the event.
The African champions had ended their Group A campaign with three points, courtesy of a 2-0 win over the Korea Republic and losses to former champions Norway (3-0) and hosts France (1-0).
But they had to wait three days later after their final group game on Monday to know their fate.
And the Nigerians were almost left frustrated after Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses beat New Zealand 2-1, meaning they (Falcons) had to slip from third on the best third-placed teams table to fourth.
A 3-0 win for Chile over Thailand would have ended the Falcons dreams of qualification but having led 2-0, the South Americans lost a penalty late on in dramatic fashion to hand the Nigerians a spot in the knockout stage.
Cameroon also qualified as one of the third best-placed teams, thus making it the first time two Africans will reach the knockout stages of the competition.
Algeria crowned African champions
Algeria has won its second AFCON title in Egypt after 29 years they did as hosts in 1990. Baghdad Bounedjah’s second-minute goal was all the Desert Warriors needed to claim the crown in Egypt.
For Senegal, the search for their first AFCON title continues despite coming so close to it as they did in 2002. Baghdad Bounedjah’s shot took a huge deflection off Salif Sane and looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomes.
Senegal was awarded a penalty for handball in the second half but it was overturned after a VAR review.
Algeria closed out the rest of the game to win their first title since 1990.
Senegal’s players collapsed on the pitch in tears at the final whistle.
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, who said before the game he would swap his Champions League winners medal for Africa Cup of Nations success, looked disconsolate as Algeria players celebrated around him.
“Without the players I am nothing,” said Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi. “They are the main ones. I suppose the staff played its part in guiding the players but they applied the instructions incredibly well.”
Mikel calls time on Super Eagles career
Super Eagles’ skipper, Mikel Obi has retired from international football stating that it was time to allow youths to take over. 32-year-old Obi made the disclosure via his Instagram handle @mikel_john_obi on Thursday, after leading the side to the third place of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
He made his debut at AFCON in the 2006 tournament hosted by Egypt.
“Egypt is a country where I started and have finished my national career. In 2006, I played my first official championship for my country.
‘‘2019 African Cup of Nations marks my last championship for the national team with Super Eagles,” he wrote on his page.
The 32-year-old began his career in 2003.
“My national career started in 2003 under 17 World Cup and ‘am grateful to the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skills and have an incredible national and international career.
“At the age of 32, it’s time for me to retire from the national team and let the youth take over, we’ve done an amazing job by securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019.
“Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my country for all the trust, support and love you’ve shown me over the past 15 years.”
Mikel also won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Nigeria matches into AFCON semi-finals
Super Falcons lose to France
Nigeria’s Super Falcons suffered a 0-1 defeat to France in their last group game at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup on Monday night, June 17, at Roazhon Park.
The encounter saw the Falcons win the first corner of the contest after three minutes through Francisca Ordega, but nothing came out of it, with France clearing their lines. The hosts were beginning to get more possession of the ball after 12 minutes of action, but the 11-time African champions ensured they kept maximum concentration to stop France from scoring at Roazhon Park.
In the 25th minute, France came close to breaking the deadlock off a free-kick, but Nigeria managed to keep the French side at bay. Three minutes later, the Super Falcons escaped another attacking threat from Les Bleus as sores remained goalless.
At the end of the first 45 minutes, two additional minutes were played out, but none of the teams were able to scores as the scoreboard read Nigeria 0-0 France. In the second half, France continued pilling up the pressure on the Africans champions, but Super Falcons held on to keep the game barren.
Six minutes after the hour mark, Falcons goalkeeper Chaimaka Nnadozie executed a brilliant back-to-back saves to deny the French side from netting, before conceding a penalty after Ngozi Ebere was handed the marching order courtesy of a second yellow card for the poor challenge inside the box. The referee needed the VAR before confirming the spot kick. However, after Renard missed the penalty kick, the VAR ordered for a retake, with goalkeeper Nnadozie getting a yellow card for leaving the line before the kick.
Despite the other late chances, France could not increase the scores as Nigeria held on to suffer their second defeat, with the scoreboard reading Nigeria 0-1 France at the blast of the final whistle. The Falcons will now wait for the other group games to be completed to find out if they reached the last 16 round