Falcons Spell Gambia, Qualify For AWCON 2018
Four goals by Desire Oparanozie and a brace by Asisat Oshoala enabled reigning champions Nigeria to spell GAMBIA in Lagos on Monday and qualify for the 11th Africa Women Cup of Nations on a 7-0 aggregate win.
Oparanozie started early, blasting past goalkeeper Aminata Gaye from the spot in the second minute after Francisca Ordega was upended in the box by Nenneh Jallow.
Former U17 team star Amarachi Okoronkwo, who scored the only goal of the first leg in Bakau on Wednesday with a long range strike, tried to recreate same on the half-hour, but her effort saw the ball kiss the upright and bounce to safety.
The visitors strung passes together brilliantly in the midfield but could not get past the experienced Nigerian rear wall of Faith Michael, Ngozi Ebere, Osinachi Ohale and Skipper Onome Ebi.
Typically, Ngozi Okobi dominated the midfield, orchestrating brilliantly and earning standing ovation on several occasions with her intelligent play and passes.
Her clever knock-down in the box in the 45th minute freed Asisat Oshoala to score Nigeria’s second.
Oparanozie knocked in her second and Nigeria’s third in the 48th minute, and although Penda Bah, Adama Tamba, Isatou Jallow Mam Drammeh and substitute Clarra Gomez tried to fashion a different approach, the 2016 Women AFCON final goalscorer hit the fourth for the Falcons in the 62nd minute to take the winds off the Gambians’ sail.
Substitute Halimatu Ayinde failed to connect with the net gaping after a brilliant Ordega pull-out in the 72nd minute, but Oshoala quickly made amends for that and several other misses with a captivating solo run and strike two minutes later.
With six minutes left, Oparanozie rifled into the far corner after her initial effort was blocked, to make it 6-0.
The Falcons thus join Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Zambia, South Africa, Algeria and Cameroon (who qualified in previous days) at the finals slated for later this year.