THE Banyana Banyana of South Africa on Tuesday emerged champions of the maiden edition of the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament after a 4-2 defeat of Nigeria’s Super Falcons in the final game
The two top teams in women’s football on the African continent at the moment played an explosive game in a match which saw an own goal and two penalties against the host in a six-goal thriller at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos.
The Super Falcons, nine-time African champions, had narrowly edged Bayana Bayana on penalty kicks in the final of the 2018 Women AFCON in Ghana, after both teams could not be separated in regulation and extra time.
To reach the final encounter against the South Africans in Tuesday’s game, the Super Falcons defeated the Female Eagles of Mali 2-0.
Both goals had come from substitute Gift Monday late in the second half of the opening fixture.
Banyana Banyana came into the clash on the back of a 3-0 win over Ghana in their opening encounter.
The South Africans were truly dominant and impressive in their demolition of Ghana’s Black Queens.
Banyana Banyana were gifted their opening goal in the early stages of the first half on Tuesday courtesy of an own goal by Alozie Chidi in the fifth minute.
The Desiree Ellis’ charges got their second after Linda Motlhalo slotted home from the penalty kick spot in the 17th minute after Ebi Onome handled the ball in the box.
Nigeria had a goal disallowed midway into the game where Banyana Banyana went on to score their third goal three minutes before the half-time break, through Gabriel Salgado.
Vivian Ikechukwu gave the Super Falcons a lifeline after pulling a goal back shortly after the break in the 47th minute.
The striker further reduced the deficit to one goal when she scored her second goal in the 53rd minute.
However, the Super Falcons were unable to add to their tally until the end of the second half while Banyana Banyana got a second penalty kick converted by Mamello Makhabane in the 86th minute to seal the win.
The incidences of penalties and own goal should take nothing away from the efficiency of the Banyana, beaten to the African title by the Falcons after penalty shoot-out in Accra in 2018.
Kgatlana, with her pace, guile and invention, and Jane Refiloe, Melinda Kgadiete and Hildah Magaia left the nine-time African champions the worse for wear after a horrendous 45 minutes at the MJA.
France-based forward Desire Oparanozie was most awful on the evening, squandering a half-dozen opportunities, easily conceding possession and literally playing against her own team.
The bright lights for Nigeria as the climate became overcast in the second half were Gift Monday, Opeyemi Sunday and Vivian Ikechukwu, who all came into the game after half time and underscored boldly what youth might be able to speak to that the old guard might not.
Ikechukwu, like a house on fire, fought for every ball across the park, turned in a sweet cross by fellow substitute Gift Monday only two minutes into the second period to give Nigeria some hope, and crashed a vicious shot into the top corner of goalkeeper Kaylin Swart’s goal in the 53rd minute as the arena rumbled.
The Super Falcons created chance after chance, but Oparanozie wasted them all, choosing a big day to put every foot wrong, and shockingly, lasting the entire 90 minutes on the park.
Victory meant South Africa emerged the best team of the tournament, and a statement was made that Nigeria should henceforth put her fate in the hands of young and glory-hungry players who still have much to look forward to Onyema shells out another N20million
President of Air Peace Airline, Barrister Allen Onyema was not dismayed by the lashing received by the Super Falcons in the hands of South Africa’s Banyana Banyana at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena on Tuesday.
He presented the sum of N10million to the Super Falcons’ class of 1999 that reached the quarter finals of the FIFA Women’s Cup in USA and were honoured by the NFF at a special Awards ceremony in Lagos on Monday, and also gifted the present bunch the sum of N10million.
It would be recalled that Barrister Onyema, whose company became the Official Airline of the Nigeria National Teams following a contract agreement signed earlier this month, motivated the Super Eagles with the sum of N20million to win their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier against Cape Verde in Mindelo. He promptly redeemed the pledge on the team’s arrival after their victory.
The Super Falcons lost the final match of the Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament 2-4 to South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, but it was a good lesson for Nigeria to set store by her young brood.