The Nigeria senior women national team, Super Falcons yesterday beat Algeria 1-0 at the Agege Stadium, Lagos to move to the second round of the Japan 2020 Olympic Games’ qualifying series on 3-0 aggregate.
The Super Falcons had last week beaten the Algerians 2-0 in Algiers to make yesterday’s game an easy exercise. FC Barcelona star, Asisat Oshoala scored Nigeria’s lone goal in the 57th minute.
Contrary to fans’ expectations, the Algerian ladies were tactically disciplined and determined to get something out of the game. But they found it difficult to outmanouvre the more experienced Nigerians, who capilatilised on the North Africans’ naivety to take the day.
There were a number of misses from the Nigerian side with Amarachi Okoronkwo heaving her shot a little too high in the 6th minute, before goalkeeper Kahina Takenint, who impressed on the evening, saved from Asisat Oshoala. A minute later, Takenint saved as Rasheedat Ajibade curled a smart one from a tight angle. On the quarter hour, Oshoala dashed down the right and sent in a grounder, but the ball went begging for connection.
Six minutes from recess, Yasmine Benlazar headed over the bar as the Algerians threatened.In the second period, the visitors improved their game, and Lina Khelif, Horiya Affak, Benlazar, Megane Belkhiter, Mounia Houheche and Lyidia Belkacemi were impressive with their ball sense, positioning, ball distribution and anticipation, cutting off the Falcons from doing damage, and looking anything but a team that the Falcons had beaten 2-0 in Blida six days earlier.
It took a strong solo run and finish from Asisat Oshoala, after all-action forward Francisca Ordega intercepted the ball at the halfway mark in the 57th minute, for the Falcons to break the deadlock.
Speaking after the game, Super Falcons coach, Thomas Dennerby said he was not satisfied with his girls’ performance.“The Falcons were too confident following the 2-0 victory in the first leg. That is why I felt they were relaxed and taking the game easy.
“The Algerians came to Nigeria with the hope to beat the Falcons but they could not succeed,” he said.Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, who also watched the match, said he was delighted on the Falcons’ victory, saying that measures would be put in place to ensure adequate welfare package for the women team players.
“The Ministry of Sports under my watch will do everything possible to build more facilities that will make female football grow in Nigeria. My vision is to go round the country and see how the stadiums in Abuja, Ibadan, Kaduna and Lagos will be revamped. I am also working hard to see that Nigeria hosts the U-20 World Cup,” he declared.The Super Falcons will meet Cote d’Ivoire in the second round of the Tokyo 2020 African race.
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