The Super Falcons of Nigeria played a 1-1 draw with Ethiopia in the first leg of the qualifier for the women’s football event at the 2024 Olympics.
Nigeria had to fight back to save themselves from the jaws of defeat through a strike by Rasheedat Ajibade in a match played at the Abebe Bikila Stadium, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday.
Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum was absent from the match, and the responsibility was handed to Madugu Justine, the assistant coach.
Falcons started the game with Chiamaka Nnadozie in goal and the duo of Oluwatosin Demehin and Esther Akudo in a central back partnership supported on both sides by Nicole Payne and Michelle Alozie.
Ajibade was named the team captain and took control of the midfield alongside Peace Efih and Toni Payne. Asisat Oshoala, Uchenna Kanu and Monday Gift led the team’s attack.
Ethiopia took the lead In the fifth minute, through a corner kick that was badly managed by the Falcons, and the goal was scored by Birkie Amare
Falcons struggled to respond to the early attack as the team’s superior ball possession continuously collapsed in the final third.
The equaliser came five minutes into the second-half as Ajibade took a chance and directed a half-volley into the Ethiopian net.
Nigeria will host the Ethiopians in the second leg of the encounter at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, on Tuesday.
The winner of the tie will qualify for the next round of the qualifiers, which will eventually produce two teams representing Africa at the 2024 Olympics.
The 2024 Olympics is billed to take place in Paris, France, from July 26 to August 11, 2024.
The Falcons played at the Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
(Editor: Oloyede Oworu)