When Zambia pulled off a major shock by beating Nigeria 1-0 on Friday to win the bronze medal at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, it marked the second time that the Super Falcons have failed to make it to the podium at the flagship championship for women’s football in the continent.
While they have won nine times in the 12 editions of the tournament, they made one other podium appearance when they beat Cameroon 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the third place match at the 2008 edition.
But on another instance in 2012, Cameroon beat them 1-0 at the losers’ final match just as Zambia did Friday night.
The Copper Queens clinched the third position for the first time in their history thanks to an unfortunate own goal by the Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie in Casablanca.
The goal inadvertently scored by the Super Falcons shot-stopper Nnadozie was enough for the Zambians to claim their first medal in the history of the tournament.
The Queens got the better of the record title holders Nigeria who paid the price for their profligacy and finished outside the top three for the first time in ten years.
Bruce Mwape’s ladies showed early glimpses of an upset in the game with some delightful display which paid off on the half hour mark.
But the Super Falcons were a constant threat with Ngozi Okobi Okeoghene and Christy Ucheibe failing to score from decent opportunities.
A thunderous strike from Evarine Katongo from the edge of the box struck the woodwork but Nnadozie could not deal with the rebound as the ball hit her to enter the net on 29 minutes.
Nigerian star Gift Monday struck the post before Zambia goalkeeper goalkeeper Hazel Nali produced an amazing save to stop Ashleigh Plumptre’s freekick just before the break.
Nigeria came into the second half with a different attitude as they tried to get the equaliser but the Zambians dealt with any threat that came their way.
The Copper Queens held onto their lead to ensure the bronze medal remained theirs with Nigerian finishing outside the top three since the 2012 tournament in Equatorial Guinea.