At the start of the final group matches on Saturday, Nigeria, Ghana and Mali were all vying for the two semi-final places. Nigeria started quickly against Kenya in Limbe and scored with their second attack after just two minutes of play as Ngozi Okobi fired home on her first start of the tournament.
Four minutes later, Nigeria doubled the lead as Faith Ikidi headed the ball into the top corner beyond the reach of Kenya goalkeeper Vivian Akinyi from a free-kick swung in from the left.
Kenya did not give up and did their best to push forward and had some chances from set-plays to threaten the Nigerian goal without really troubling keeper Alaba Jonathan. But it was Nigeria who continued to create chances with Asisat Oshoala (pictured) looking dangerous as she looked to add another goal to the four she scored against Mali in the opening Group B match.
Kenya came out and did their best after the break and even dominated for a short period of time but it was Nigeria who extended their lead in the 53rd minute.Okobi pushed the ball into the area and Oshoala ran in behind the defence and calmly clipped the ball across the keeper into the net.
Officially, the Arsenal striker now has 6 goals at the tournament despite the goal against Ghana going in off Portia Boakye. Nigeria’s fourth came in the closing minutes as Desire Oparanozie beat a Kenyan defender to fire home from the edge of the six-yard area.
In Yaounde, Mali created several scoring chances and Ghana were struggling to take control of the match but it was the Black Queens who took the lead just before half-time.
Linda Eshun hooked the ball over the head of the Mali keeper after the defence failed to deal with a ball in from the right.
Ghana doubled the lead as Portia Boakye raced onto a long through ball behind the Mali defence and she unselfishly set up Samira Suleiman who had the simple task of side-footing the ball home. Ghana’s third came from the penalty spot as their only overseas-based player, Elizabeth Addo, who plays in Sweden, scored from the penalty spot for
the third match in a row at the tournament.
Binta Diarra pulled a late goal back for Mali but it was not enough for the Lady Eagles.
Both semi-finals will take place on Tuesday with Group B winners Nigeria continuing the defence of their crown against South Africa in Limbe and Group B runners-up Ghana facing hosts Cameroon in Yaounde.