By Edward Oseghe
Ghana’s Black Princesses engraved their names in history as the first-ever winners of the inaugural edition of the WAFU B U20 Girls Cup of Nations.
The breathtaken final battle with arch-rivals Ghana ended with a 1-1 draw at full time, however it was the Black Princesses who won in a penalty shootout, clinching a 3-1 triumph.
With Ghana has the host country of the tournament, Nigeria was welcomed as most favourites among the participants.
Soccernet reports that the Falconets dominated the opening stages under the guidance of their astute coach, Chris Musa Danjuma.
Notwithstanding, Ghana struck first, capitalizing on a penalty conceded by Nigeria to net their captain, Stella Nyamekye, from the spot. This marked the first goal the Falconets had conceded throughout the entire competition.
As the first half ended, Nigeria desperately sought to restore parity but fell short of finding the elusive equalizer.
The second half saw the Falconets launch a relentless assault on the Ghanaian defence.
Alas, luck seemed to elude them as they struggled to find the perfect final pass or the fortuitous bounce needed to breach the goal line.
In a remarkable turn of events, Flourish Sabastine finally broke through Ghana’s resistance in the 84th minute.
Seizing an opportunity presented by the opposing goalkeeper’s misjudgment of a routine cross, Sabastine calmly tapped the ball into an unguarded net.
The relief and joy that accompanied her goal were palpable, particularly since she had been responsible for the penalty that allowed Ghana to score their solitary goal. This crucial strike marked Sabastine’s fourth goal of the tournament.
With only a minute of regular time remaining, the Falconets momentarily switched off, nearly allowing Ghana to snatch a dramatic stoppage-time winner.
But fate intervened in Nigeria’s favour as the ball ricocheted off the crossbar, saving them from heartbreak.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 after the full 90 minutes, the match progressed directly to a penalty shootout to determine the champions.
The Black Princesses converted three of their spot-kicks, while Nigeria managed to find the back of the net only once.