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Gallant Nigeria’s Super Falcons will not defend their reigning title of Women Africa Cup of Nations after losing 5-4 against Morocco in the semi-final.

The captain Onome Ebi led Nigeria side had started the match dominating play despite the Moroccans playing in their home front with more than 45,000 spectators. Unlike their opening game against the South Africans, the Nigerian team showed some level of composure having good possession of the ball, especially in most part of the first half.

The first half ended with both teams recording goalless going into the break. On resumption of the second half the Falcons were more attacking in play, creating chances in the opponent box. It paid off in the 62 minute as Uchenna Kanu put the Super Falcons in the lead, 1-0.

Immediately after the goal, when play resumed string of refereeing decisions were countered by the Nigeria women following ‘soft calls for free-kicks’ by the referee. It didn’t take long before the Super Falcons were reduced to 10 women with Halimatu Ayinde sent-off following a challenge that was obviously not intentional for a hard tackle. But on consulting with the Video Assisted Referee it clearly showed there was a contact with a Moroccan player resulting to the red card.

The Morocco’s Atlas Lionessess responded with an equalizer through Sannaa Mssoudy and the home fan went on jubilation.

With Rasheed Ajibade already sent off before the goal to reduce the Nigeria players to nine women, the Super Falcons tactically changed their style to the game, drawing back to their defense with Gotham FC forward Ifeoma Onumonu staying put upfront. She constantly kept the Morocco Atlas Lionessess defense pressured despite the two women down from the Super Falcons.

The second half ended with both team finishing the regular time 1-1. But the ‘gallant’ Super Falcons played the extra time socking the pressure from the Moroccan women with Nigeria’s shot-stopper Chiamaka Nnadozie making several stunning saves during extra time.

Nigeria had a brilliant shot hitting the top goalpost through after the ball had beaten the Atlas Lionessess goalkeeper.

The match later went into penalty shoot-out with Ifeoma Onumonu who was outstanding during normal play losing her spot-kick for the North African to book their place in the final.

Meanwhile, Paris FC goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was named Woman of The Match, following her several stunning saves. Other winners of the best Woman of The Match Award are Osinachi Ohale and Rasheedat Ajibade.

Also, Confederation of African Football, CAF, has confirmed the 45, 562 spectators at the Stade Prince Moulay Abdallah that watched the semi-final game between Nigeria and Morocco as the highest attendance in Africa women football.

A new champion will emerge when South Africa and Morocco clash in the final. Both finalists, the Bayana Bayana and the Atlas Lionessess will aim for their first continent title.

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