Ethiopia women’s national football team held the nine-time African champions, Nigeria’s Super Falcons, to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the 2024 Olympics Games qualifier at the Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa.
The Super Falcons, playing without their head coach Randy Waldrum, found themselves on the back foot early in the match as Birkie Amare capitalized on a defensive lapse to put Ethiopia ahead in the 6th minute.
Despite spirited efforts from Barcelona star Asisat Oshoala and Gift Monday, the Super Falcons were unable to find an equalizer before the halftime whistle.
The second half saw a rejuvenated Super Falcons side, and their efforts were rewarded in the 52nd minute when stand-in captain Rasheedat Ajibade unleashed a thunderous strike from 25 yards out, finding the roof of the net and bringing the scores level.
The Super Falcons coaching staff, led by Justin Madugu and Ann Chiejine, made a series of substitutions in the second half, introducing midfielders Rufiat Imuran and Ifeoma Onumonu in the 60th minute, followed by debutant Rinsola Babajide in the 71st minute.
Asisat Oshoala was also replaced in the 80th minute by former Falconets star Opeyemi Ajakaye.
The changes almost paid off in the dying moments of the match as Ifeoma Onumonu’s header found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
The 1-1 draw leaves the tie delicately poised ahead of the second leg, which will be played in Nigeria on Tuesday, October 31, 2023.
The winner of the tie will secure a spot in the football event of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.