Super Falcons failed in the pursuit of a 10th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations title on Monday night after losing to host nation Morocco in a pulsating encounter that was settled by penalties.
Playing two women down from the 71st minute when star player Rasheedat Ajibade was sent off, the Super Falcons held on gamely to the end having had their 62nd minute goal cancelled by the Moroccans four minutes later.
Regulation and extra time produced no goals despite the 42,500-packed Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat vociferously backing the Atlas Lionesses. In the end, Nigeria missed a penalty in the shootout and lost 5-6.
The win was the first ever for the Moroccans against the defending champions, after previously losing 0-8 in Kaduna at the 1998 edition of the competition, and 0-6 at the 2000 edition in South Africa.
A forced own goal from Yasmin Mrabet gave the Falcons the lead, while Sanaa Mssoudy restored parity through a shot from close range after the Falcons defence failed to clear their lines.
Ifeoma Onumonu then sent her effort straight at goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi in the ensuing penalty shootout, the only player to miss her kick, to hand the hosts their biggest victory in women football.
Morocco will go on to play South Africa on Saturday in the final. The Banyana Banyana had earlier edged Zambia 1-0 in the other last four clash on Monday.