The Super Falcons recorded their worst performance in WAFCON history after losing to Bruce Mwape’s women in Casablanca.
Zambia defeated Nigeria to win 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations third-place play-off on Friday night, with Evarine Katongo’s first-half effort separating both teams as the Super Falcons paid for their wastefulness at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca.
Still upset by their defeat to hosts Morocco in the semi-final, coach Randy Waldrum’s side went all out against the Southern Africans to restore some pride.
Fuelled by that, they dominated the game from the blast of Vincentia Amedome’s whistle.
Just two minutes into the low-scoring encounter, the first chance fell to the reigning African champions but Ifeoma Onumonu missed from close range after she was set up by captain Ngozi Okobi.
Five minutes later, the Copper Queens went close to finding the net after Xiomala Mapepa sent a cross into Nigeria’s goal area, but Ashleigh Plumptre cleared the ball to safety.
Aside from dominating the opening quarter, the Super Falcons had numerous scoring chances, their greatest undoing was failing to convert.
In the 22nd minute, Francesca Ordega dribbled past Martha Tembo before teeing up Okobi, whose long-range strike was saved by goalkeeper Hazel Nali.
On the other hand, goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie made a superb save to deny Mapepa from finding the net.
Two minutes before the half-hour mark, the reigning African champions paid for their unpardonable misses when ZISD Queens midfielder Katongo put Bruce Mwape’s team ahead.
After running through the right side of Nigeria’s backline, Tembo skipped past Michelle Alozie before sending the ball inside the goal area. Christy Ucheibe’s inability to clear the ball ensured that Katongo drilled a shot from a long-range shot – with the ball ricocheting the crossbar before rolling into the net.
That goal was a reality check for Waldrum’s women, nonetheless, they were unable to restore parity.
Two minutes into the second half, Gift Monday was presented with a golden opportunity to level matters for Nigeria after a one-two exchange with Okobi, but she fired her close-range shot wide.
Again, Monday was the culprit as she wasted another sitter to the dismay of the Nigerian supporters.
Even with the substitutions made by coach Waldrum, the nine-time Wafcon winners could not find a way to unlock the Zambians’ defence as they failed in their quest to finish third.
This is the first time in the history of Wafcon that the Super Falcons have finished outside the top three, while the Copper Queens won their first medal since their maiden appearance in 1995.