Nigeria defeated Morocco 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 27-25) in the 5th to 8th classification match at the ongoing 2023 African Senior Women’s Nations Volleyball Championship in Yaounde, Cameroon on Wednesday.
Nigeria changed their starting team with Aliyat Usman, Kelechi Ndukauba, Happy Wushilang and Blessing Unkwe making the starting six against Morocco. The youthful side produced a wonderful performance coming from a deficit of five points to win by 26 to 24 points.
Coach Samuel Ajayi maintained the same players in the second set as the combination of Ijeoma Ukpabi and Happy Wushilang dismantled the Moroccans. Nigeria led comfortably with the support of the crowd winning by 25 to 21 points.
In the third set, Morocco led by 24 to 22 points before the combination of Aliyat Usman and Kelechi Ndukauba won two sets for Nigeria to equal 24 to 24 points. Ijeoma Ukpabi won Nigeria’s 25 points after which the referee made a controversial call following Happy Wushilang’s spike.
Nigeria tied 25 to 25 points and Aliyat Usman made a fantastic drop to make the score line 26 to 25 points. The game ended in favour of Nigeria with the Algeria position four sending the ball outside the court following her untimed spike.
An elated Samuel Ajayi said, “I am very happy with the victory against Morocco because I had them in mind based on what happened at the last edition of the African Championship in Rwanda where we were unlucky to win the bronze medal.
“Playing Morocco today, I told my players to take their pound of flesh by winning irrespective of playing in the classification match and the players lived up to expectations.”
Ajayi revealed that the players were not under pressure throughout the game against Morocco.
He said, “In the first set, I was not under pressure because they were leading us with four points and we recovered and got to 20 points. I called for a time out highlighting where we needed to concentrate on and the players yielded to the instructions from the touch line; you say all my demonstrations on the court which led to the players paying attention to every word.”
“I believe the players have realised their mistakes, especially the Algeria match (last group stage match) that cost us the pairing with Kenya in the quarterfinals; they were lucky in the group stage.
“We are going to reaffirm our dominance in the 5th position match and take the match seriously. By the special grace of God, Nigeria will have the day”, he added.
Nigeria will face Algeria in the fifth position match on Thursday.