Gift Monday: The Suave Falcon
Massively depleted after 2 players were handed their walking papers, the Super Falcons had a mountain to climb against hosts Morocco in last year’s women’s Afcon semi-final.
Playing 11v11 was tough enough, now 9v11 in front of hostile opposition crowd, all hands had to be on defensive deck to try to retain the 1:1 scoreline.
Out of the blues, there was one last chance to power Nigeria to an unlikely lead. That unlikely present was almost delivered by none other than the ubiquitous striker Gift Monday.
Powering through a sea of Moroccan defenders all by herself like a cascading flash flood , Monday surged forward and pulled the trigger just outside the 18 yard box.
The world stopped for a second, the home vociferous crowd held its breath, the Super Falcons players said their prayers but sadly and agonisingly, the ball whooshed and crashed the bar!
Nigerian and Moroccon hands were on their respective heads for contrasting reasons: one a sigh of relief, the other the groan of despair.
Nigeria had lost perhaps the last chance to create history in the most unlikely of ways: there will be no miracle of Rabat.
The kiss of death would then be delivered by Ifeoma Onumonu – already a persona non grata to a body of Super Falcons fans at that stage – after failing to put away her penalty kick. Nigeria will not be playing in the Afcon final.
But the story of Gift Monday had begun :the unlikely striker who almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for Nigeria.
Gift made the world cup squad but she has thus far only romanced the bench for Nigeria’s first two matches. But make no mistake this lady is voluptuous.
She like to rendezvous into the box 18 with seductive movements before caressing the ball and slamming the sweet spot of the net.
Despite having not flirting with the ball on grass in this competition, Gift Monday is loving every bit of it and egging her team on.
“I am very proud of the performance and progress of this incredible group. The feeling of being part of this team alone gives me goosebumps. We are here to shine and surely the good run will continue,” posted Gift Monday on social media.
With Oparanozie yet to be acquainted with game-time and a glut of options up front, it remains to be seen when Monday will embrace the pitch. Never one to shy away from getting stuck in, Monday will be itching to get her day.
She has pace, dribbling abilities, a decent passing range, attention to offensive details and a keen eye for the net.
Monday tried but was unsuccessful in writing her name in football pop-culture in last year’s Afcon. Should the opportunity present itself in this tournament, she will definitely go to bed with it!