Abuja - A last-gasp penalty strike from Gabriela Salgado gave South Africa hope as they lost 2-1 to Nigeria in the first leg of the final round of the U20 Women's World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
This was the first instalment of a tie where everything was at stake, and how both Falconets and Basetsana demonstrated it at the Abuja National Stadium.
The two sides provided a pulsating play-off first leg that Nigeria edged 2-1, taking a slim lead to Tembisa and the potential golden goose of qualifying for Papua New Guinea 2016.
One can only hope the second leg match at the Makhulong Stadium is played out with such verve.
The visitors held their own for 29 minutes against their much-fancied opponents until Chinwendu Ihezuo broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark following a brilliant cross from the dangerous Chinaza Uchendu.
Nigeria could have increased their lead some minutes later only for Uchenna Kanu's shot to hit the upright.
The fierce drive from the Delta Queens youngster rolled across the goal line and bounced back into play, falling into the hands of the previously stranded South African goalkeeper Mapaseka Mpuru.
On the stroke of half time, a tame-looking shot from Kanu was deflected into the net for an own goal by defender Caryn van Reyneveld to give the Falconets a 2-0 lead at the break.
In the second half, the home team continued from where they left off in the first half, and Basetsana were let off the hook in the 65th minute when the defence cleared off the line with Mpuru well beaten.
South Africa suffered a double blow when Noma Sikweza was taken off injured and her replacement Amanda Mthandi did not finish the match due to an injury. Thato Letsoso took her place.
Basetsana held their own in the second half with Mpuru the busier of the two goalkeepers.
Also read: South Africa U20 women arrive in Abuja for Falconets
South Africa was awarded a goal in the 90th minute after Falconets defender Glory Ogbonna handled the ball in the box.
The motivated Gabriela Salgado stepped up to give Basetsana the much-needed away goal as she slotted the ball beyond Captain Sandra Chiichii.
“It's a one-goal advantage but that's all it is,” said Falconets coach Peter Dedevbo to News24.
“We’ve been capable of going to some tough venues like Monrovia and Kinshasa. We'll look forward, the players will relish it, a big stadium, a big atmosphere and a big crowd.
“Our job now is to go there and win in the second leg. There's a lot of celebrating [from South Africa] which is fine because they've come to our place and scored a crucial away goal. But we've got to go there in the next fortnight and deliver a performance and we have to win.”
The second leg clash is scheduled for the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Saturday 7th November 2015. The game will get underway by
4pm Nig Time.
The winner will qualify for the 2016 FIFA u20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
Nigeria Starters: Sandra Chiichii (c), Mary Ologbosere, Glory Ogbonna, Ogechi Ukwuoma, Ugochi Emenayo, Patience Kalu, Osarenoma Igbinovia, Tessy Biahwo, Uchenna Kanu, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Chinaza Uchendu
Reserves: Christy Ohiaeriaku, Kemi Famuditi, Esther Elijah, Amarachi Ojinma, Joy Bokiri, Aminat Yakubu, Onyebuchi Ihuoma
South Africa Starters: Mapaseka Mpuru, Tiisetso Makhubela, Sinenhlanhla Shozi, Caryn van Ryneveld, Linda Motlhalo, Noma Sikweza, Mosili Makhoali, Amogelang Motau (c), Gabriela Salgado, Bongeka Gamede
Reserves: Amanda Mthandi, Thato Letsoso, Asa Rabalao, Zimasa Dekeda, Regirl Ngobeni, Puleng Moremi.