• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Ajibade rallies Nigerians ahead of Super Falcons clash against Banyana

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Super Falcons captain Rasheedat Ajibade has called on Nigerians to maintain confidence in the team’s ability to earn a ticket to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in France as they prepare for a crucial clash against South Africa’s Banyana Banyana in Pretoria on Tuesday night.

Ajibade’s strike from the penalty spot earned Nigeria’s Super Falcons a narrow 1-0 victory in the first leg in Abuja and even as there is all to play for in the return in South Africa’s administrative capital, the Atletico Madrid star says the players will be propelled to victory knowing that the faith of over 200 million Nigerians in them is unwavering.

“We are fully aware of the challenges ahead. The upcoming match against South Africa will be tough, but we are ready to give our all,” said Ajibade.

“The faith and belief of Nigerians in us serve as a great motivation. Personally, playing in the Olympics is a dream for me, and I am determined to make it happen now.”

The Super Falcons, after training both at their hotel premises and the MKO Abiola National Stadium, departed Abuja for Johannesburg aboard an Air Peace flight on Sunday night.

Upon arrival on Monday morning, they will proceed with a one-hour road trip to Pretoria, where they will conduct their official training at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Reflecting on Friday’s encounter, Ajibade acknowledged the valiant efforts of both teams, with opportunities for goals on both sides. Despite Banyana Banyana’s resilience, the Super Falcons remain focused on the upcoming showdown at the 51,000-capacity stadium.

Highlighting the unpredictability of football, Ajibade emphasized the team’s readiness to face any challenge, drawing on past victories against formidable opponents on foreign soil. With determination and unity, the Falcons are poised to deliver a strong performance, irrespective of the venue or circumstances.

Similarly, the Banyana must have come to acknowledge the formidable skills of Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, widely recognized as one of the world’s best. Her exceptional performance thwarted the Banyana’s attempts to breach the defence on multiple occasions. Notably, Jermaine Seoposenwe was left astonished by Nnadozie’s remarkable save when she fired a powerful shot from 20 yards after receiving a pass from Thembi Kgatlana. Kgatlana herself faced disappointment as Nnadozie foiled her attempts to score on several occasions.

Despite the narrow deficit in Friday’s encounter, the Banyana found reason to celebrate. However, Nnadozie affirmed that the Super Falcons would leave no stone unturned in their upcoming match at the 51,000-capacity Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Home turf advantage has severally been proved to be a mirage in football, even in the ongoing qualifying series, with Zambia defeating Ghana in Accra, Morocco defeating Tunisia 2-1 away, South Africa trouncing Tanzania 3-0 in Dar es Salaam and Morocco also defeating Zambia 2-1 in Ndola in the first leg of their final qualifying fixture on Friday.

Ajibade added: “At the end of the day, the grass will be green and it will be eleven players against eleven players. We are ready.”

The second leg match will be officiated by North African referees appointed by the Confederation of African Football, led by Tunisian referee Dorsaf Ganouati. With support from the coaching staff, players, and fans, the Super Falcons are prepared to overcome the challenges and secure their place in the Olympics.