In an exciting clash in Addis Ababa, the senior women’s football teams of Nigeria and Ethiopia ended their match in a 1-1 draw, marking the second round of qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games. The tie, with one goal each, has set the stage for a thrilling return leg in Abuja scheduled for the upcoming Tuesday. The victorious team on aggregate will advance to face either Cameroon or Uganda in the subsequent phase.
The turning point of the game occurred when match-day captain Rasheedat Ajibade, with an impeccable scorching shot from the edge of the field, restored parity just six minutes after the restart at the Abebe Bikila Stadium. This came in response to an early Ethiopian lead, with Birkie Amare capitalising on a corner kick in the sixth minute of the match.
During the match, Asisat Oshoala occupied the top striking position, while Uchenna Kanu and Gift Monday operated from the wings. A tactical shift saw Michelle Alozie moving to left-back to accommodate Nicole Payne at right-back, and Oluwatosin Demehin and Akudo Ogbonna stood tall in central defence. In the absence of Christy Ucheibe and Halimatu Ayinde, Peace Efih joined Toni Payne and Ajibade to orchestrate the midfield.
The first half proved to be a closely contested affair with both teams struggling to create scoring opportunities. Notably, Asisat Oshoala missed a chance from Payne’s cross halfway through the period.
However, after Ajibade’s equalizer, the Falcons took control of the game, and substitute Ifeoma Onumonu had a golden opportunity to put Nigeria ahead in the 64th minute. In the 79th minute, Payne and Onumonu combined to create another excellent chance, but Oshoala once again failed to convert.
The Falcons believed they had clinched victory when Onumonu rose above all to head the ball into the net right at the final moment. Unfortunately, the goal was disallowed by Algerian referee Lamia Atman, who spotted foul play in the build-up.
Both teams will now head to the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Tuesday to finalise the crucial match.