The end result might have had a familiar look to it, but Nigeria's march to a fifth CAF African Women's Championship - and a place at China 2007 - proved to be anything but a procession.

Home advantage and their traditional superiority over other African opposition ensured that the Super Falcons were always going to be hot favourites, but they had to pull out all the stops to preserve their 100 per cent record in continental competition. Ghana could certainly have not have put up any greater resistance in any evenly-matched final which, in the end, the hosts just succeeded in edging 1-0.

"It was a tough game, but thank God we are champions again," said the relieved Nigeria coach, Effiom Ntiero Effiom, after the win. "From here, we plan for the World Cup which I believe will be good for us."

Consolation for Ghana came in the shape of a ticket to this autumn's global showpiece, with the China-held tournament the third in succession at which these two west African countries will be charged with representing their continent at the women's game's top event.

In the semi-finals, which decided who would be heading to China, Nigeria had little problem in dispatching Cameroon, whom they had beaten 4-0 in the final of the previous African Women's championship in Johannesburg two years earlier. This time round, the Super Falcons went one better, with former African Women's Footballer of the Year Perpetua Nkwocha grabbing a hat-trick in an emphatic 5-0 win over the tough-tackling Cameroonians, who ended the game with 10 players. Nigeria's other goals came from Cynthia Uwak and Effiomwan Ekpo.

Goalkeeping heroics save Ghana
It was the other semi-final that provided all the drama as Ghana snatched a place at China 2007 courtesy of a dramatic last-gasp penalty from Florence Okoe. With the game goalless and heading towards extra time, a rush of blood to the head saw South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Chimeloane foul Anita Amankwah to concede a costly 87th-minute spot kick.

Okoe duly converted to spark wild celebrations in the Ghanaian camp, although the Black Queens would be the first to admit that they had goalkeeper Gladys Enti to thanks for their win. A series of incredible saves from Enti kept Ghana in the game and helped them to victory as South African strikers Veronica Phewa and Memory Makhanya were kept at bay.

In the final, there was a packed house at the Warri Township stadium to see Nkwocha score the only goal of the game after just 14 minutes, preserving Nigeria's dominance of African women's football.

Elsewhere, Equatorial Guinea proved the surprise package at the championship, even though they did not make it past the first round. They scored twice against Nigeria in the tournament's opening game and drew 3-3 with Algeria to gain the first point for the tiny oil-rich African state in any continental football competition.

The other competitors at the event, hosted at five separate venues in Nigeria's Delta State, were Algeria, Congo DR and Mali.