The Nigeria national women’s team, the Super Falcons, have gotten their campaign at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON 2022) back on track following their crucial 2-0 win over the Mares of Botswana, Thursday night in Rabat.
A goal in the first half by Ifeoma Onumonu and another by substitute Christy Ucheibe a few minutes into the second half saw Nigeria cruise to victory at the Moulay Hassan FUS, Rabat Stadium.
After Monday’s lackadaisical performance against the Bayana Bayana of South Africa, the Falcons needed the three points in Thursday’s Group C clash.
Randy Waldrum’s side put up an improved display which was enough to see them get the result that keeps them both in contention for a World Cup ticket as well as a record-extending 10th title.
Though the Super Falcons dominated the early exchanges, the Botswana Ladies clearly showed they were no pushovers as they made threatening moves that kept goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie busy in-between the sticks for Nigeria.
As early as the ninth minute, Maitumelo Bosija had a great attempt at goal for Botswana but the Mares were denied by the Falcons goalkeeper.
The Super Falcons got better as they settled into the game with the likes of Rasheedat Ajibade, Ngozi Okobi, and Francisca Ordega providing lively displays.
It didn’t take too long afterward for the Falcons to break the deadlock as a defense-splitting pass from Halimatu Ayinde found Onumonu who expertly slotted past the onrushing goalkeeper to give Nigeria the lead in the 21st minute.
While the opening goal boosted the confidence of the Nigerian ladies, it made the Bostwana team come out of their shells for a possible equaliser.
Rifelwe Tholakele led the onslaught on the Nigeria defence but Nnadozie was equal to the task, saving everything thrown at her; including a well-taken free-kick which was straight on goal.
The Super Falcons held on to their slim lead till the end of the first half
Coach Waldrum at the start of the second half took off the ageing Rita Chikwelu for Christy Ucheibe and that proved to be a smart move as the new entrant doubled the Super Falcons’ lead barely after spending two minutes on the pitch.
Ucheibe, a former player of Nasarawa Amazons, rose the highest to head in Nigeria’s second goal after a well-delivered corner kick from Toni Payne.
With her instant impact, Ucheibe was a target for the Botswana defenders and Kesegofetse Mochawe was booked for a poor challenge on Ucheibe in the 50th minute.
Though the Super Falcons bossed Thursday’s tie with 16 goal attempts compared to Botswana’s six and 74 per cent ball possession compared to the Mares’ 24 per cent, they were unable to increase their two-goal lead.
Coach Waldrum in trying to get the best mix for his team, made a number of substitutions in the second half. Ajibade was replaced by Uchenna Kanu; Ngozi Okobi made way for Gift Monday and Regina Otu came on for Ordega.
The Super Falcons clearly did enough to get a 2-0 win that moves them up to the second spot in Group C with three points ahead of Sunday’s final group game against Burundi. Table-toppers South Africa already qualified for the next round with two consecutive wins and will face Bostwana also on Sunday.
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