Ghana’s Black Princesses took a giant step towards qualification to the next All African Games when they pushed a point off dreaded Super Falcons of Nigeria in their qualifier played at the Abuja Stadium.
The odds seemed to be against the Princesses who were standing in for the Black Queens against an experienced Super Falcons side that paraded their best squad in the game which ended 1-1 in front of a sparse crowd.
Nigeria opened fire early missing two chances within the first six minutes, but it was the Princesses who will regroup well and though lacking in physical presence, kept action in midfield and ensured goalkeeper Nana Ama Amankwaa stayed true to her calling to keep them in the game.
Keeper Amankwaa dramatically denied Stella Mbachu from putting the homers ahead in 13 minutes when she stepped out boldly and dived to her elastic limit to parry to safety the veterans powerful volley.
Occasionally, Mercy Myles, Cynthia Adobia and Janet Owusu will take complete charge of the middle and Ghana’s best chance came through one of those moves.
Skipper Myles took a ball from the middle and shrug off challenges from Francisca Ordega and Charity Ifenkoh before picking out Portia Boakye to race clear.
Amazingly, Boakye who left Falcons goalkeeper Precious Dede no chance rather shot wide in a manner that surprised even the Nigerians and left them thankful in 36 minutes.
As the Princesses twisted, turned and wove their passes together, the Ghanaian supporters then made entry to the arena and to light up immediately with cheers that will briefly shift attention from the field.
Both teams resumed from the recess with so much inspiration basically because of what the technical team must have told them, but it was Nigeria who grabbed the upper hand and left the Princesses defending for most part of the half.
Ghana will sit back to their disadvantage and Nigeria Coach Uche Ucharia brought on Esther Sunday for Emueje Ahbiagbevifa in search of sustained pressure on the visitors.
This paid off and Mbachu was unlucky to have two dead ball situations within five minutes go amiss. The Falcons will step up pressure and soon they had what they deserved. Desire Oparanozie sent the stadium chanting with the opener in 75 minutes.
The bulky striker picked a ball from Ebere Orji in the middle and sent a powerful shot that hit the roof of the net to give Nigeria a realistic joy. The goal served the tonic and the homers from then upped the pressure on the Ghanaians.
Ghana reacted well knowing keeping the score line like that will give them a pretty good chance in the return duel in Accra in two weeks. However, when substitute Elizabeth Addo who took over from Janet Owusu darted on the right to the Nigerian goal area and played a one-two with Agnes Quaye, as an equalizer beckoned.
Addo brilliantly sent in an in-swinger that found cool head Grace Asare who brilliantly finished off with a composure that will send the homers blaming each other five minutes on.
The remaining ten minutes was hell for the Ghanaians with the Nigerians attacking in droves for the match winner but to no avail till the final whistle. The return leg will be played in Accra in a fortnight.
LINE-UP: Ghana – Nana Ama Amankwa, Mercy Myles, Hillia Kobblah, Edem Atovor, Rosemary Ampem, Janet Egyir, Cynthia Adobia, Agnes Quaye, Janet Owusu/Elizabeth Addo, Grace Asare, Portia Boakye.