PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – Nimba has gone down in the history books of the National County Sports Meet as the first county to be crowned champions of women’s football.
On Sunday, January 13, the Mountaineer Girls beat Lofa in the final of the first ever female football tournament in Liberia’s biggest sporting event. Nimba beat Lofa 5-4 in penalty shootouts after a 1-1 draw in full time.
With Lofa and Nimba qualifying for the final with 4-0 victories over Margibi and Bomi, respectively, the final turned out to be as entertaining as expected.
The two sides displayed beautiful football on the pitch. After an electrifying start to the match, it was Nimba that got the curtain raiser from the penalty spot when Agatha Nimene converted from the spot to give Nimba the lead in the 23rd minute. Efforts from Lofa in getting the equalizer failed to materialize as Nimba went to the first half break with a one-goal lead.
Lofa returned stronger from the break as they went on searching for the equalizer. Just five minutes into the second half, Francisca Howe delivered a close-range shot that redeemed Lofa’s hopes. An early equalizer for Lofa raised the expectations of more goals in the match, but things turned out differently with neither team being able to score again as the match moved to a penalty shootout stage, where Nimba grabbed a 6-5 win. The champions earned themselves a trophy, along with a cash prize of L$100,000 (US$629) cash prize.
The tournament was a successful one for the 2017 winner of the Most Valuable Player award of the Liberia Football Association, Agatha Nimene, who finished as the highest goal scorer. She was also named the Most Valuable Player of the county meet tournament.
Nimene, who is the first player to receive the award in the women’s football category, was also the first female player to score a hattrick when she netted three goals to help Nimba beat Bomi in the semifinals. Her goal against Lofa in the final took her tally to four goals in two games.
Women’s football in the National County Sports Meet was played for the first time this year through the recommendation of the newly elected president of the Liberia Football Association, Mustapha Raji, who made available his personal contribution of the cash prizes for the champions and the runners-up.
According to Raji, female football in the national county sports meet was one of his many plans he revealed to football stakeholders before being elected.
Featured photo by T. Kla Wesley Jr.