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Aisha Buhari Cup: Banyana thrash Falcons to lift trophy

Nigeria’s Super Falcons succumbed to Banyana Banyana of South Africa at the maiden Aisha Buhari Cup with two penalties and an own goal by defender Michelle Alozie fetched the visitors 4-2 victory in the final match of the tournament yesterday at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos.

The incidences of penalties and own goal should take nothing away from the efficiency of the Banyana, beaten to the African title by the Falcons only after a penalty shoot-out in Accra in 2018.

As a measure of the outright domination of their 2018 conquerors, the efficacious Thembi Kgatlana was not even among the goals. She worked hard on the wings and everywhere else taunting the Nigerian rear-guard but Linda Motlhalo, Gabriela Salgado, and Mamello Makhabane were the scorers after Alozie’s clanger.

Youthful, skillful, and ambitious, the Banyana looked like they could score with every onslaught on the Nigerian goal, and it took the introduction of four younger players into the Nigerian squad at the start of the second period for the fans to have something to cheer about their own team.

Kgatlana, with her pace, guile, and invention, and Jane Refiloe, Melinda Kgadiete, and Hildah Magaia left the nine-time African champions the worse for wear after a horrendous 45 minutes at the MJA.

The bright lights for Nigeria as the climate became overcast in the second half were Gift Monday, Opeyemi Sunday, and Vivian Ikechukwu, who all came into the game after halftime and underscored boldly what youth might be able to speak to that the old guard might not.

The Super Falcons created chance after chance, but Oparanozie wasted them all, choosing a big day to put every foot wrong, and shockingly, lasting the entire 90 minutes on the park.

The new blood swept on the South African goal several times and showed hunger, great ball sense, and sense of purpose, but the equalizer would not come. Instead, South Africa got a second penalty after Gloria Ogbonna tripped Motlhalo in the box with five minutes left. Makhabane made no mistake from six yards.

The victory meant South Africa emerged as the best team of the tournament, and a statement was made that Nigeria should henceforth put her fate in the hands of young and glory-hungry players who still have much to look forward to.

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