AWCON 2022: Nigeria reach final qualifying round despite loss to Ghana

Nigeria senior women’s team are through to the final qualifying round of the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations after defeating their Ghanaian counterparts 2-1 over two legs in the first qualifying round.
Randy Waldrum’s team lost the second leg 1-0 in Accra, but their win at Mobolaji Johnson Stadium last week was enough to take them through to the final qualifying round, where they will meet either Ivory Coast or Niger in February 2021.
Both teams finished the game with ten players, as Portia Boakye and Glory Ogbonna received their marching orders. Ghana were first to be reduced to ten, with captain Portia Boakye sent off after picking her second card of the evening for a horrendous tackle on Asisat Oshoala.
Ghana dominated the opening half and they almost scored on 44 minutes when Grace Asantewaa latched on to a through ball. The no.5 exploited the space left for her by Onome Ebi, sending the ball to the top corner but goalkeper Chiamaka brilliantly pushed the Real Betis star’s effort over the bar.
At the other end, just before the break, Asisat Oshoala had a chance to put her side ahead after a pass was slipped to her but goalkeper Fafali Dumehasi came off her line to deny the Barcelona Femeni forward.
After the break, the Black Queens continued to press and on 47 minutes, their persistence paid off as Princella Adubea broke sneaked behind Nigeria defence to stab home Portia Boakye two minutes into the second half.
In the 62nd minute, Adubea almost made it 2-0 for Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo’s side with a delightful header, which came against the crossbar.
Seven minutes from time, the Racing de Santander caused panic at the Nigeria box again, this time sending a shot across the face of goal. It looked like Vivian Opoku Konadu was going to turn the ball in, but she failed to make contact with the ball and Nigeria survived the scare.
And in stoppage time, the Ghanaians hit the woodwork again. So many players tried to get to rebound and a melee ensued but Nigeria defended in their numbers to keep the Black Queens from scoring again.
The result means Ghana will miss next year’s AWCON — which is scheduled to hold in Morocco — and, of course, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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