NIGERIA began their title of the Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) in solid fashion by smashing six goals past Mali at the Stade Municipal de Limbe on Sunday. Asisat Oshoala scored four while Francisca Ordega and Uchechi Sunday got among the goals.
Head coach of the African champions, Florence Omagbemi, named a startlist without Desire Oparanozie with Sunday preferred upfront alongside Arsenal Ladies striker, Oshoala. Faith Ikidi, Onome Ebi, Orde ga, Halimatu Ayinde and captain Rita Chikwelu completed Nigeria’s list of overseas-based team. Mali head coach, Oumar Guindo, listed three of the four France-based players in his 11 for this game.
Dejnaba Baradji, Sebe Coulibaly and Aissatou Diadhiou were the France-based trio that started. Seven minutes into the game, Uchechi Sunday’s knockdown played Oshoala through on goal but the Arsenal Ladies forward applied a first heavy touch and allowed the ball to bubble out of play to the relief of Mali stopper Samake Goundo.
Mali had their first opportunity to test the Nigerian back-four when they broke from the right channel. But Sebe Coulibaly’s cross was too easy a catch for Alaba Jonathan.
On 15 minutes, Oshoala’s cutback into Mali’s box was met by Washington Spirit forward, Ordega, who effort was blocked before FC Minsk midfielder Ayinde dragged her attempt off target. Five minutes later, Sunday rose highest to plant a headed attempt at goal straight into the hands of Mali goalkeeper Goundo. However, Goundo could not stop Ordega from passing the ball into the bottom corner from a low cross to give Nigeria a deserved one-nil lead.
Halfway into the first 45 minutes, Ayinde then waltzed through the Mali defence and could only watch as her delightful chip grazed the woodwork and went out of play. Mali’s only threat in the game came from one of their France-based stars, Baradji though the Nigerian backline anchored by Onome Ebi kept her in check.
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