Women’s Africa Cup of Nations: Nigeria to defend title against South Africa

Ngozi Ebere celebrates
Nigeria's Ngozi Ebere fired home the decisive spot-kick against Cameroon

Nigeria will defend their Women's Africa Cup of Nations title against South Africa on Saturday in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

Their respective semi-final wins mean they also clinch places at next year's Women's World Cup in France - where Nigeria will make an eighth appearance and South Africa a first.

The Super Falcons needed penalties to beat Cameroon after a goalless 120 minutes, while South Africa beat Mali 2-0 in the other semi-final.

Cameroon and Mali must now lift themselves for Friday's third-place play-off that has a World Cup place on offer for the winners.

In the first of the semi-finals, which was a repeat of the last two Nations Cup finals, Nigeria and Cameroon cancelled each other out over 120 minutes.

The main drama of the match came in the post-match spot kicks with Nigeria scoring with all four of their efforts as Ngozi Ebere scored the decisive penalty.

Cameroon were undone by two failed attempts as first star player Gaelle Enganamouit's weak effort was comfortably saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi before Genevieve Ngo Mbeleck's effort then went wide.

It was a first penalty shoot-out at the tournament in 10 years and the tenth time that Nigeria have overcome Cameroon in the tournament's history.

South Africa's Banyana Banyana, led by captain Janine Van Wyk on her 158th appearance, created history for themselves by reaching a first World Cup thanks to a goal in each half against Mali.

Both sides had claims for penalties waved away by the referee, Mali claiming a handball and South Africa for a foul.

On the half-hour mark, a dominant South Africa made a breakthrough when Mali failed to deal with a ball into the area which allowed Thembi Kgatlana to stab past goalkeeper Adoudou Konate.

Kgatlana has now scored in all her four matches in Ghana and takes her tally to five overall, so making her the leading goalscorer.

Mali kept pushing for an equaliser and their best spells came either side of half-time but in truth, both sides struggled to find the decisive passes that would have created better chances.

South Africa made sure of the win nine minutes from time when Lebohang Ramalepe's effort from wide on the right-hand side of the area evaded Konate and sailed into the top left-hand corner of the net.

The win sparked wild celebrations led by Van Wyk who had said before the tournament it would be an emotional tournament for her and several senior players since it could be their last chance to qualify for a World Cup.

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