The senior women’s football team of Nigeria and Ethiopia on Wednesday in Addis Ababa drew 1-1 in the second round of qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games.
The result from the game meant they have now set up an interesting return leg in Abuja on Tuesday, with the winners on aggregate advancing to meet either Cameroon or Uganda.
Matchday captain Rasheedat Ajibade’s scorching shot from the edge of the area, six minutes after the restart, had restored parity at the Abebe Bikila Stadium.
That was after the Ethiopian girls surprisingly took the lead in the sixth minute of play as Birkie Amare made hay from a corner kick.
Asisat Oshoala was in the top striking position during the game, with Uchenna Kanu and Gift Monday operating from the wings.
Michelle Alozie switched to left-back to allow Nicole Payne to take charge at right-back, while Oluwatosin Demehin and Akudo Ogbonna were in central defence.
With Christy Ucheibe and Halimatu Ayinde unavailable, Peace Efih joined Toni Payne and Ajibade to string things together in the middle.
Both teams found it hard to create many opportunities in a tight first period. However, Asisat Oshoala should have done better with an opportunity from Payne’s cross halfway into the period.
After Ajibade restored parity, the Falcons took full control, and substitute Ifeoma Onumonu should have put Nigeria in the lead in the 64th minute.
Payne and Onumonu combined to create a gilt-edged opportunity in the 79th minute, but once more, Oshoala failed to make hay.
The Falcons thought they had won it when Onumonu towered above all to head into the net on the dot of time.
But Algerian referee Lamia Atman 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 business at hand.