2022/2023 Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Premiership champions, Delta Queens followed the footsteps of Rivers Angels (2021) and Bayelsa Queens (2022) to qualify for the final of the West African Zone B (WAFU-B) Women’s Champions League Qualifiers.
The Asaba-based side defeated Athletico FC of Ivory Coast 3-2 after extra time to book a place in the final of the tournament hosted at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo State capital, Nigeria.
Melissa Behinan fired home from distance to put the visitors in shock lead in the fifth minute of play as the undefeated Nigerian queens head into the tunnel a goal down against their Ivorian rivals.
The introduction of Mercy Omokwo and Folajomi Fabiyi in place of Temilope Owoeye and Nmesoma Ibeh after the restart changed the tide of the game in favour of the Queens.
Super-subs Mercy Omokwo netted a screamer from distance to level matters for the Nigerians in the 63rd minute.
The game headed into extra time after both sides were not separated after 90 minutes. Omokwo completed the comeback for the Nigerians off a superb close-range finish eight minutes into the extra time.
Eight minutes later, captain, Taiwo Afolabi increased the tally with another sublime lobbing.
In a similar fashion, Athletico captain, Joy Sunday pulled one back for the Ivorian champions six minutes before the end of the extra time but it wasn’t enough to deny the Nigerians a place in the final.
Delta Queens will face last year’s beaten finalist, Ampem Darkoa of Ghana in the final in a bid to become the second Nigerian side to win the WAFU-B title, following the footsteps of Bayelsa Queens.
Bayelsa Queens beat Ampem Darkoa last year to win the WAFU-B title, a feat Delta Queens will hope to replicate in the final this year.
WHAT THEY SAID?
Delta Queesn coach, Tosan Blankson: “We weren’t thinking anything when down by a goal and knew we were going to win because the first half is different from the second half. We had a game plan that worked but towards the end of the additional time, the girls relaxed. They forgot that the game had not ended because it was 3-1. Not until the referee blew the final whistle that the game was finished.
“They gave us a very good fight but we hope to take the sole ticket. We also have a joker. Today, Mercy Omokwo was our joker. We know what we are doing here.”
Delta Queen’s Mercy Omokwo: “I am very happy for the win. I want to thank my fellow teammates for making it possible and fighting so hard for us to come out victorious this evening. I also want to thank my coach. He has been a father to us. It was a great game today although I didn’t start. Not every player starts every game. I want to thank everyone who has put in effort to ensure the win.
“The coach has the final say. It isn’t compulsory for me to start every game. Even if I start or come from the bench, the whole thing is just to put in more effort and win the game.”
Delta Queens captain, Taiwo Afolabi: “I am grateful to Almighty Allah for giving me the chance to score the winning goal for my team and a very big thank you to my teammates for coming out strong to equalise and win the match. I dedicate the goal to all my teammates. Also a very big thank you to the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Honorable Philip Shaibu, and our father Tonobok Okowa for their moral support. Expect good football and victory in the final match. In our next game, we will come out stronger.
“The feeling in the second half was to come all out for victory. Determination comes first before financial gains and motivations.”