President of the Nigeria Football Federation and FIFA Council Member, Amaju Pinnick, has condemned the use of laser lights on the Super Falcons during their defeat to host Morocco in the semi-final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.
Nigeria were welcome with hostility at the full-packed Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco as fans directed the beaming laser lights directly into the eyes of the Falcons players to disrupt their play.
Apart from having to deal with the intimidation from the 42,500 crowds, the nine-time champions were reduced to 10 women after midfielder Halimat Ayinde was given her marching orders in the 48th minute following a clumsy challenge on a Moroccan player.
Things got worse for the current champions just a moment after the Lionesses had restored parity as referee Maria Rivet from Mauritius handed forward Rasheedat Ajibade a red card in the 70th minute forcing Nigeria to play the remaining 20 minutes of regulation time and the extra time with nine women in what was a thrilling encounter.
In a statement by the NFF media team, Pinnick while hailing the Falcons for their gallant display despite all odds also condemned the laser lights directed at the players.
“Of course, we would have been happy to be in the final and chase a 10th title. But I am happy with the performance of the team and the way and manner they approached the game despite all sorts of setbacks and intimidation,” Pinnick said.
“To play 50 minutes of a game with only nine players is not an easy task. The Super Falcons gave their all and were truly fabulous. They had the ‘Nigeria spirit’ in them and showed a sense of patriotism, were dogged, and refused to give up. Penalties are forever a lottery, so it could have gone either way. I commend the team for the outing.
“Our girls did a massive job on a night they were not only depleted but challenged by laser lights trained on their eyes by the crowd. I am enamoured by their resilience and tenacity.”