AWCON 2018 Review: The evolvement of Asisat Oshoala and Nigeria
After being crowned more than any other team in the Total Women’s AFCON, the Super Falcons are struggled to keep their heads above the water in this year’s tournament. After losing their first match to Banyana Banyana by 1-0 scoreline, their win against the She-polopolo of Zambia was the only reason why they were not knocked out earlier in the tournament. Have they evolved, the Nigeria side who were once like a gun packed with bullets? I mean, they have Asisat in their team. Now that they have taken the title home, how much weight of the club has this lady carried on her shoulders.
First and second match
The coach, Thomas Dennerby expressed his disappointment not only because of the Super Falcons’ loss but even when they won. He mentioned that the goals that they scored did not match the quality that he had cultivated into the team. Even Asisat was not playing at the expected level that we had also praised her at in our deep dive about her. She was held responsible for missing several chances that came to the Nigerian side. Notably, in the 69th minute, she collided with a good opportunity which was however, eclipsed by her teammate Ordega. Even though she was the best goal scorer in the same tournament two years ago, she was not able to score up to that point. Two matches with nothing? Babes, you got us worried at that point.
Chances do not just come, but they do come to revive lost hope. In their third match, against Equatorial Guinea she snatched 3 goals out of 6, to her name. That is incredibly carrying half of the weight of the team on her shoulders. In as much as some claimed that this was not her full potential being realised, it was still in line with the greatness we always anticipate from her. They say the higher you go, the colder it becomes, but that was not the case for Nigeria. The higher they went up the game, the hotter and harder it became. Their match against Cameroon led to a goalless 90 minutes of just running around the pitch. However, when it came to the desperate measures, penalties, Asisat was put on the spotlight and she lived up to the expectation ad scored. That was another 25% of the team’s victory carried on her head the same way some African women carry water pots on their heads.
We are not sure if it came with the nerves that was exerted by the pressure or what, but she missed the penalty which happened to be Nigeria’s only chance to snatch the trophy under normal time. She also lost the Top Goal Scorer Award to Thembi Kgatlana from South Africa. At least her name appeared in the best substitutes’ list. Has she fallen from glory?
Sometimes it is not your present performance that affords you credit, but your past contribution to the team is what we cannot forget. Asisat might have not performed at the expected level in this tournament but we know how much she has done, not just for herself but for the Nigerians and the rest of African women. Her dedication to her talent has gone a long way to show us how much an African woman can achieve if she dedicates herself to it. Babe, we love you regardless of just being counted as a good substitute.