BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Nine-time record-making African Champions, Super Falcons of Nigeria have again failed to qualify for the Olympic Games for the third time in a row.
The Nigerian side, which hitherto could boast as the best side in Africa, last qualified for the Olympic Games in 2008 in Beijing.
They failed to qualify for both London 2012 and Rio 2016. They have now completed the cycle by failing to make it to the Tokyo 2020.
Thy struggled to hold a rampaging Ivorian side to 1-1 draw at home and thus exited the qualifying series via the away-goal rule having played a barren draw in Abidjan last week.
Going by the pedigree of the Nigerian team which scored two cancelled goals in the way match last week, a deluge of goals was expected from them, recalling the ancient past when they littered the African football fields with the carcasses of destroyed teams.
Alas, it was a sheer dream as it was the Ivorians who kicked off that dictated the pace with quality moves and deft ball controls.
Their approach to the game, unlike the lackadaisical attitude of the Super Falcons soon paid off as Nina Kapho found the tight angle of the Nigerian net from a right-sided free kick in the 12th minute.
There are then panicky football ensued on the part of the Nigerian side as more pressure mounted on the defence line while supply of serviceable passes were cut off, leaving skipper and point-person upfront, Asisat Oshoala stranded most of the time.
But in a breakaway move in the 34th minute, Oshoala leveled for Nigeria to lift the hope of a possible qualification. But lack of cohesion and the greater determination of the Ivorians prevented any other goal.