Although the defending champions, Super Falcons, were expected to defeat Mali in their opening game of the on-going African Women Nations Cup, the way the girls went about the 6-0 demolition of their fellow West Africans has left fans of the other teams featuring in this championship in awe of the Nigerians.
Hosts, Cameroun, struggled to a 2-0 defeat of Egypt in the opening game of the competition on Saturday, but the Falcons didn’t break much sweat as they spelt Malian yesterday in Group B’s first match.
Arsenal Ladies’ star, Asisat Oshoala, who won the 2014 African Woman Player of the Year award and was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the last edition of the championship in Namibia, was the star as she scored four of the six goals.
The Falcons showed that they meant to destroy Mali when U.S.-based Francisca Ordega opened scores with a smart finish from Ugo Njoku’s run down the Malian defence in the 22nd minute. Before that, Oshoala’s darting run and pass in the 15th minute was fluffed by Uchechi Sunday, who wasted a number of opportunities on the day.
Four minutes after Ordega’s goal, midfielder Halimatu Ayinde came close after a good move but her chip rocked the upright with the Malian goalie beaten. Five minutes before recess, Oshoala read brilliantly a through pass and beat the goalie before slotting into an empty net for her first and Nigeria’s second.
A minute into the second half, Sunday again missed with only the goalie to beat from Faith Ikidi pass, but she made it three from the penalty spot a minute later after Osarenoma Igbinovia was brought down in the box.
Thereafter, it became an ‘Oshoala Show’. The introduction of a clever Chioma Wogu for fumbling Sunday worked well for her. In the 62nd minute, Oshoala latched onto a header by Wogu to outrun a defender and the goalkeeper before smashing into the roof of the net, and six minutes later, she benefitted from another Wogu pass to meander past two defenders and slot past the goalkeeper.
Her fourth, and Nigeria’s sixth, came from another brilliant pass, from captain Rita Chikwelu, with 12 minutes left.
The Falcons will certainly meet stronger opposition from Ghana’s Black Queens, whom they play in their next match on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, volunteers numbering about 210 have threatened to disrupt the championship following an alleged neglect of their welfare by the local organizing committee of the championship.
The volunteers, who told The Guardian that they left their families to train for the competition for two weeks, said the organisers have not kept to the promise they reached before the championship, adding that the LOC has adopted a divide and rule strategy to cheat them.
One of the volunteers, who pleaded anonymity, said, “Some of us have been given about 20,000 CFA (N14, 000), while others were paid 35,000 CFA.
“They did not tell us why they paid some of us lower for doing the same job with those, who got 35,000 CFA. Can you imagine that they paid the two singers, who performed at the opening ceremony 34 million CFA each? All we hear is that we should sacrifice for the nation, but we insist that if we must sacrifice everybody must join in doing that.”