They need just a draw at home in a fortnight to wrap up their qualification for the global tournament.
The visitors were not to be cowed and took the match to their hosts from the blast of the referee’s whistle. Two-goal hero of the team’s triumph against Kenya in Nairobi in the previous round, Patience Okaeme and playmaker, Halimat Ayinde, scored for Nigeria early in the second half before the Zambians scored their consolation goal.
Nigeria pressed hard from the start and the Flamingos were unlucky not to have scored in the first period.
“Yes, I am happy that we won, but it could have been by a much bigger margin,” said coach Peter Dedevbo at the end of the encounter. “All the same, we savour the victory and now look ahead to the second leg in Nigeria.”
The win ensures the Nigerian girls have almost booked a ticket for the fiesta and it will be Nigeria’s third consecutive appearance at the Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup finals, with earlier outings in New Zealand 2008 and Trinidad and Tobago 2010.
The return leg comes up at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta on March 24.