Super Falcons

Ajibade, Nnadozie talk tough as Super Falcons prepare for South Africa return-leg

As the Super Falcons gear up for the crucial second leg of their Women’s Olympic Football Tournament qualifier against South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, team captain Rasheedat Ajibade and goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie have called on Nigerians to show confidence in their ability to secure a ticket to the Olympics in France.

Ajibade’s penalty strike secured a narrow 1-0 victory for Nigeria in the first leg held in Abuja. With the return leg set to take place in Pretoria on Tuesday night, Ajibade emphasized the team’s determination to give their all on the field, fueled by the unwavering support of over 200 million Nigerians.

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

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

The Super Falcons underwent rigorous training sessions at their hotel premises and the MKO Abiola National Stadium before departing Abuja for Lagos on Sunday night. From there, they will fly to South Africa, arriving in Johannesburg on Monday morning before making the journey to Pretoria.

In the first leg, Nigeria had several opportunities to extend their lead, but South Africa’s goalkeeper, Kaylin Swart, made some remarkable saves. Similarly, Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, showcased her talent with crucial saves to keep the Banyana Banyana at bay.

Looking ahead to the second leg, Nnadozie expressed confidence in the team’s ability to perform well, citing past victories against formidable opponents.

“The Super Falcons are used to big battles. This one will not be any different. Australia were playing in their home ground at the World Cup but we defeated them,” Nnadozie said, referring to Nigeria’s victory over Australia in last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

With the stage set for a thrilling encounter at the 51,000-capacity Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Ajibade reiterated the team’s readiness for the challenge.

“At the end of the day, the grass will be green and it will be eleven players against eleven players. We are ready,” she affirmed.

The match will be officiated by North African referees, with Tunisian Dorsaf Ganouati leading the team. The Confederation of African Football has appointed a team of experienced officials to ensure a fair and smooth contest.

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