Ghana have been eliminated from the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifying despite beating Nigeria 1-0 in Accra on Sunday.
Princella Adubea registered the solitary goal in the first round second leg fixture but the Super Falcons’ 2-0 home victory in the first leg saw the Black Queens lose 2-1 on aggregate.
Nigeria, defending Afcon champions, have booked a ticket to the second and final round of the qualifiers as they seek a flight to Morocco for the final tournament.
Ghana coach Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo largely kept faith with the side that started in the first leg, offering starting places to Djurgardens ace Portia Boakye and the Spain-based duo of Adubea and Grace Asantewaa.
Barcelona attacker Asisat Oshoala, as expected, led the Nigerian side, which boasted of the experienced duo of Osinachi Ohale and Onome Ebi.
Required to score twice to stand any chance of overturning the first-leg result, Ghana started on the front foot, creating a series of chances which went wasting, owing to poor finishing and naivety in front of goal.
The visitors, on the other hand, sat back, opting to exploit openings as the hosts threw women forward. Like the Black Queens, the Super Falcons were found wanting with the final ball.
In the 22nd minute, Adubea beautifully chest-controlled a ball over-the-top into the opposition penalty box but the Nigerian defence ultimately reacted well to block a final shot on goal.
Moments later, Gladys Amfobea saw a header coolly collected by goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie after captain Portia Boakye delivered a long, searching ball from a deep free-kick.
A minute to half-time, Asantewaa went on a run into the Nigeria area but saw her shot pushed over the bar by goalkeeper Nnadozie.
In a matter of seconds at the other end, Oshoala outran her marker to go one-on-one with goalkeeper Fafali Dumehasi who did well to thwart the No.8’s move.
After half-time, Ghana came back stronger and recorded the first goal of the game through Adubea, who slotted home from close range after receiving a through-ball.
In the 62nd minute, Adubea almost made it 2-0 but her header, having connected to a free-kick, struck the bar.
Ghana were clearly in control at this point, with Nigeria pinned in their own half. One moment of pressure saw Nnadozie almost caught off guard off her line after an attempted clearance went straight to the opponent.
In the 65th minute, the Black Queens suffered a setback when captain Boakye was sent off for a second bookable offence, having fouled Oshoala on a counter-break.
The Nigerians’ numerical advantage, however, lasted only for 10 minutes as Glory Ogbonna was sent off in the 75th minute for a reckless challenge on Naomi Animah.
On 83 minutes, Nigeria had an opportunity to fetch the equaliser on the night when Oshoala beat her marker to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper but for the second time, the striker failed to find her way past the sharp Dumehasi.
Ghana almost went 2-0 up five minutes to full time when Adubea hit a shot across the face of goal but striker Vivian Opoku Konadu failed in her bid to apply the much-needed final touch, letting the Falcons off the hook.
After an injury-time goal-mouth scamble, which saw Ghana hit the bar again in what was the last significant action of the game, the referee’s whistle blew.