- Nigeria win CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations for the ninth time
- Competition's top scorer Thembi Kgatlana also named best player
- Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon qualify for France 2019
Nigeria have maintained their superb CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations record, winning the competition for the ninth time out of 11 attempts. The 2018 continental title came the Super Falcons’ way when they defeated South Africa 4-3 on penalties in a final that ended goalless after extra time.
Thomas Dennerby’s side secured their place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™, where they will be joined by Banyana Banyana and Cameroon, who finished third.
The Nigerians had to work hard to earn their latest African crown. Beaten 1-0 by the South Africans in their opening group match, they also had to endure a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals, when Cameroon held them to a goalless draw over 120 minutes before the Super Falcons prevailed 4-2 from the spot. Much of the credit for their triumphant campaign should go to Tochukwu Olueji, who conceded just one goal in the competition and pulled off a string of saves in the final.
South Africa, who finished runners-up for the fourth time in their history, could console themselves with Thembi Kgatlana’s two individual awards. The tournament’s leading scorer with five goals, she was also voted its best player.
A trio made in America
South Africa enjoyed an especially impressive competition, scoring 11 goals, conceding just two, and remaining undefeated in normal and extra time. Three Banyana Banyana players excelled themselves in particular: defender Janine Van Wyk, midfielder Linda Motlhalo, and forward Thembi Kgatlana. All three were named in the team of the tournament and all three have grown used to playing together, running out as they do for US franchise Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Manie does it again
Christine Manie wrote her name in the history of Cameroonian women’s football in the semi-finals of the 2014 African finals, when her stoppage-time goal against Côte d’Ivoire took her country through to the Women’s World Cup for the first time. Four years later she was at it again, with her 92nd-minute strike in the match for third place against Mali sealing victory for Cameroon and, with it, a ticket to France 2019.
Nigerian four heading back to France
They left France in August with heads bowed following a 2-1 quarter-final loss to Spain at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018. Three months later in Ghana they gave themselves a chance of an immediate return trip to France, after helping Nigeria land another African title. Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnaadozie, defender Glory Ogbonna, midfielder Anam Imo, and forward Rasheedat Ajibade are the Nigerian youngsters in question, with Ajibade proving her worth in particular, scoring in the group match against Zambia and tucking away a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out win over Cameroon.
2018 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations awards:
Golden Ball: Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa)
Golden Boot: Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa)
Fair play award: Cameroon
Team of the tournament: Goalkeeper: Tochukwu Olueji (Nigeria) / Defence: Lebohang Ramalepe (South Africa), Janine Van Wyk (South Africa), Onome Ebi (Nigeria), Claudine Meffometou Tcheno (Cameroon) / Midfield: Raissa Feudjio (Cameroon), Marlyse Ngo Ndoumbouk (Cameroon), Elizabeth Addo (Ghana) / Attack: Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (Cameroon), Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa), Bassira Toure (Mali) / Substitutes: Kaylin Swart (South Africa), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Linda Motlhalo (South Africa), Genevieve Ngo Mbeleck (Cameroon), Francisa Ordega (Nigeria), Fatoumata Diarra (Mali)
What they said
continental titles for Nigeria. Only two Women's Cup of Nations titles escaped the Super Falcons; in 2008 and 2012. Both were won by Equatorial Guinea.