Nigeria’s star forward Asisat Oshoala has spoken of her “heartbreak” after Ivory Coast have produced a major surprise to dump the Super Falcons out of the women’s qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The current African champions and undisputed heavyweights of the continent were expected to advance to the fourth round of qualifying, but went out on the away goals rule.
The Ivorians had not even qualified for the 2018 African Women’s Championships, but following a 0-0 draw at home, managed to secure a 1-1 draw in Nigeria.
Barcelona star Oshoala was on the scoresheet for her country, but it was not enough and they must now face up to their failure.
“It’s very disappointing and a real heartbreak for us,” Oshoala told BBC Sport. “Obviously, it’s what I was looking forward to. I’ve never played at the Olympics and it’s important for us to participate in it as a team.
“I actually thought this would be it – sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Four years is a very long time for us and I believe we’ve all learned a great lesson from this exit.
“Hopefully we can pick ourselves up on and off the field. We can only apologise to our fans and try to build on from here.”
Ivory Coast will now meet Cameroon in the next stage, with Kenya and Zambia contesting the other tie.
Only the winner of the African qualifiers will earn a place at the Olympics, with the runners-up facing off against Chile in a play-off for a second spot.