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Africa Women Cup of Nations

Super Falcons' AWCON campaign back on track after Zambia rout

13:59 GMT 22/11/2018
Nigeria women
It was a must-win game for the defending champions in Cape Coast, and they duly delivered what was expected of them against Shepolopolo

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The Super Falcons headed into their second 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations Group B game against Zambia at the Cape Coast Stadium on Wednesday knowing that they needed to win to keep their semi-final qualification hopes alive.

The pressure was on after they fell 1-0 to South Africa in their group opener on Sunday.

For Shepolopolo, they trashed two-time champions Equatorial Guinea 5-0 in thier opener, to sound a warning that they were a different team and ready to cause more damage and upset.

Exciting young talent Rasheedat Ajibade was the only change from the loss to Banyana Banyana,  and in came Ngozi Okobi in her place.

The Falcons had more possession early on, but their passes failed to stick. Three-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year, Asisat Oshoala, did however kick things into gear, firing a shot into the palms of Zambia goalkeeper Hazel Nali in the eighth minute to register the team’s first shot on target in the competition.

Captain Onome Ebi was close to giving Nigeria the lead 12 minutes later, after meeting the ball from an Oshoala corner, but again Nali was able to deal with it.

Shepolopolo had a few opportunities from set pieces, but they failed to test Nigeria goalie Tochukwu Oluehi.

The floodgates opened for the Super Falcons three minutes before the break when Francisca Ordega’s pass found Desire Oparanozie, who made no mistake putting the ball into the net.

Nigeria registered four shots on target in the first half, a sign that there was more to come after the break. It certainly did, as Oparanozie almost made it 2-0 just two minutes after the restart, but her effort was cleared by the Zambia defence.

The Southern Africans were chasing shadows and failed to offer the kind of threat they promised after their onslaught of Equatorial Guinea.

The Falcons continued to press hard and Oshoala had a real chance in the 61st minute to increase their lead but her shot went for the side netting.

The 2-0 lead would eventually come through Ordega, with a cool volley that was beyond the reach of Nali, after Oparanozie’s earlier effort hit the woodwork.

Ajibade came on and made it 3-0 in the 75th minute, blasting a fierce shot that sent the Cape Coast crowd into raptures.

Oshoala had a couple of chances to get her name on the scoresheet but all went begging, altohugh another substitute, Amarachi Okoronkwo, drilled in a low shot from distance in the 93rd minute to wrap up a superb 4-0 win .

It was indeed an improved performance from the 10-time champions. Though they didn’t start well, Zambia’s inability to pose any threat meant they had enough chance and space to get into the game.

Oshoala will be highly disappointed with herself after having as much as five genuine chances to score. Regardless of the upset, she has been the focal point in the team, a clear indication of exactly why she is Africa’s reigning queen.

For Bruce Mwape’s ladies, it was a terrible display, and they should be hanging their heads in shame after appearing confident of oppressing and upsetting the reigning African champions.

Thomas Dennerby’s charges have, however, demonstrated why they remain tournament favourites and the team to beat.

They can now approach their final group game with Equatorial Guinea on Saturday in confident mood after the tiny nation were annihilated 7-1 by South Africa.

All they need to do is turn up the way they did against Shepolopolo.