Nigeria’s Super Falcons finally opened their account at the ongoing WAFCON 2022 with a dominant performance as they defeated the Mares of Botswana 2-0 in their second Group C match in Rabat, Morocco.
While the Super Falcons lost their group opener to the Banyana Banyana of South Africa, Botswana defeated Burundi 4-2 with some fast-flowing football on show in the game. The reigning champions were confirmed to be without the injured duo of Asisat Oshoala and Ashleigh Plumptre, both of whom had picked up injuries against South Africa.
The Super Falcons started the match against their opponents brilliantly, exerting a dominance that they failed to exert against the Banyana Banyana. Full-backs Michelle Alozie and Oyedupe Payne in particular were impressive in pushing the team forward from out wide, and the experienced Rita Chikwelu pulled the strings in the middle of the park. The gulf in class and quality was obvious from the start as Botswana were left chasing shadows.
It took the Super Falcons only 21 minutes to open the scoring in impressive fashion. Midfielder Halimatu Ayinde released Ifeoma Onumonu with a defence-splitting slide-rule pass, and the striker poked the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper with the outside of her boot to open her WAFCON 2022 account. After taking the lead, the Nigerian ladies continued to run the game and the Ayinde-Onumonu connection nearly yielded a second goal only ten minutes later.
Botswana got their first sighting of the goal when forward Refilwe Tholakele’s firmly struck free-kick was brilliantly saved by Chiamaka Nnadozie to deny the Mares an unlikely equaliser. The Super Falcons held off a late Botswana charge to head into the break with a one-goal lead.
Immediately after resuming for the second-half, Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum sent on Benfica midfielder Christy Ucheibe in the place of injured veteran Chikwelu, and the substitute doubled the Super Falcons’ advantage just three minutes after the restart. A brilliantly-taken corner kick from Payne was powered into the back of the net by Ucheibe, who had ghosted into a bit of space in the box.
The Super Falcons continued to dominate proceedings until the end of the match and picked up a vital three points. The Nigerian team are now second on the log behind South Africa, who are through to the last eight after a win over Burundi. The Super Falcons would look to seal their own quarterfinal spot at the WAFCON 2022 when they take on Burundi on Sunday.