Holders Nigeria kept alive their hopes of retaining their TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations title after narrowly defeating arch-rivals Cameroon 1-0 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.
The Super Falcons also secured their place at the 2023 Women’s World Cup thanks to the victory at the Complexe Sportif Mohamed V in the Moroccan city of Casablanca.
The defending champions needed a solitary strike from in-form Rasheedat Ajibade in the quarter-final match to get past Indomitable Lionesses and line-up a last four clash with hosts Morocco.
Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum made three changes to the squad that defeated Burundi 5-0 in the last round a few days ago with Francisca Ordega, Plumptre Ashleigh Megan and Halimatu Ayinde coming in to inject some urgency in attack.
Uchenna Kanu, Peace Ewomazino Efih and Payne Oyeyemisi Nicole were the three that paved the way from the starting line-up for the inclusion of the aforementioned trio.
Cameroon head coach Gabriel Zabo made no changes to the team that beat Tunisia 2-0 in their previous match with Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene, Ajara Nchout Njoya, Michaela Abam and Aurielle Awona all starting, demonstrating their desire to win the game.
The tight contest got off to a fiery start with both sides failing to create edgy moments for their opponents with a conservative approach to the game.
The first half was quite balanced and tight as both teams tried to create scoring opportunities but the efforts were thwarted by some tough defending before the break.
Nigeria got the breakthrough eleven minutes into the second period with their first shot on target through Atletico Madrid star Ajibade.
Ajibade headed home her third goal of the tournament from a brilliant Onumonu Ifeoma Chukwufunmnaya cross from the right following some dazzling efforts by Ngozi Sonia Okobi.
Cameroon tried to get an equaliser with attempts from Aboudi Onguene, Nchout Njoya and Abam all proving futile as the Super Falcons defence led by skipper Onome Ebi and goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie were pivotal.
The title holders will now face host country Morocco in the semi-finals on Monday.
The result means Nigeria secured their ninth consecutive qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup which will be held in Australia and New Zealand next year.