Super Falcons stars are proud of their achievement despite their semi-final defeat on Monday evening, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The nine-woman Falcons lost 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 stalemate against hosts Morocco, with Ifeoma Onumonu missing the team’s second kick after her effort was saved by home goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi.
Midfielder Halimatu Ayinde and forward Rasheedat Ajibade received red cards in the 48th and 71st minutes for poor tackles, which forced coach Randy Waldrum to apply a cautious and defensive approach for the remainder of the game.
The suspended Ajibade insisted that despite the defeat, the Falcons were still Africa’s number one women’s side.
“Words ain’t enough to describe the passion, resilience, tenacity of this @NGSuper_Falcons team, we remain the best. Super proud of you all,” Ajibade tweeted.
Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was dejected after the defeat, despite being awarded the Woman-of.The-match.
“The whole Moroccan team knew that Nigeria is a great team, so to beat us they had to distract us.
“They did everything they did just to distract us. Since I have been playing football, this is the worst match I have ever played in my life.
“They won but this is not winning for me. The officiating was not really okay. If they were good enough, we were nine players against 11, they would have scored and won. That is to show you how great we are.”
“I’m proud to have won the player of the match award in Monday’s game, to my great Super Falcons, I dedicate this award to you all. To our amazing fans, thank you for the support and encouragement. It’s not over until it’s over.”
Captain of the team, Onome Ebi, who could not finish the game due to a hamstring injury, stated, “All I have to say to this amazing team is that I am super proud of us all,” she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
“We lost the game but we fought till the end against all odds. Falcons we remain unstoppable. Thank you all for standing with us, we keep going stronger.”
Leicester City defender, Ashleigh Plumptre, said their doggedness was an indication of the character and quality of the team.
“I don’t think anybody can fault the players on the pitch for how we tried to fight,”she said.
“Even with nine players, for that amount of time, because it is not just the physical side, it is also the emotional and mental side, the frustration of having two players coming off. I am not going to comment on the decision, but that affects everybody on the pitch. Most of us were tired but we still put in a good effort.”
Nigeria will now play for the bronze medal against Zambia, who lost 1-0 to South Africa on Friday. Banyana Banyana will face Morocco in the final on Saturday.