Oshoala masterclass books Super Falcons' AWCON semi-final berth

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SamuelAhmadu/Goal
The superstar made up for her many misses as the reigning champions dismantled their Central African opponents to move into the last four


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The Super Falcons entered their final 2018 Group B Africa Women Cup of Nations clash with Equatorial Guinea knowing that they needed to win to stand a chance of progressing to the semi-finals.

Tied on three points with Zambia, who were simultaneously playing South Africa in Accra, there was no chance for the slightest margin of error in Cape Coast.

Nigeria EQ Guinea AWCON Scoreline PS

Coach Thomas Dennerby made only one change, and it came at right-back with Josephine Chukwunonye replacing Faith Michael.

The attacking trio of Desire Oparanozie, Francisca Ordega and Asisat Oshoala – that tore Shepolopolo to shreds on Wednesday  – were all ready to wreak havoc on the two-time champions, who had conceded a whopping 12 goals after two games with no victories recorded.

That was probably a sign that Nigeria would be able to win this game with consummate ease, and they did start on the front foot, with Oshoala sending a free kick wide in the sixth minute.

Woman of the Match from the Zambia game, Ordega, however got on the end of a defense splitting pass from Rita Chikwelu in the 10th minute and buried the ball past Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Diana.

Oshoala’s moment would finally arrive when she received a pass from Oparanozie to get her first goal of the tournament after more than 180 minutes of play. It came as a relief for the Dalian Quanjian lady, who lifted her hands to the heavens in celebration. She made it 3-0 in 23rd minute, coolly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

It was firmly the Oshoala show, as she bagged her hat-trick with a fine header that initially cannoned off the crossbar 10 minutes later.

The scoreline read 4-0 at halftime while Zambia and Ghana were tied at 1-1. With this, the Super Falcons were sitting in second place and on course for qualification.

Thomas Dennerby

The Falcons were hungry for more, and Oparanozie made it 5-0 just two minutes into the second half, meaning the Nigerian attacking trio all got their names on the scoresheet.

Captain Chikwelu made it 6-0, putting the ball into an empty net after Diana failed to deal with the incoming ball. It was her first goal of the tournament.

That was how the game would end at the Cape Coast Stadium, while in Accra it ended all square between Banyana Banyana and Shepolopolo.

24 total shots (10 on target) to Equatorial Guinea’s two (one on target) clearly illustrated the gulf in performance between the two sides, but no one will be happier than Oshoala, who had been unfortunate heading into this one.

It’s amazing that Equatorial Guinea descended to this all-time low despite being the only side in AWCON history, other than Nigeria, to win the title. After been embattled in controversy of fielding ineligible players during the qualifiers only to be reinstated, their preparations were admittedly less than ideal, but they've been poor in Ghana.

With their second-place finish, the Super Falcons continue their trend of never been eliminated from the competition, and will take on Cameroon in the first semi-final on Tuesday in Accra.

Desire Oparanozie

It is a rematch of the 2016 final, when the Falcons triumphed 1-0 in Cameroon when Oparanozie settled a tight game in the 86th minute.

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It will be another difficult encounter.

Ngachu Enow’s ladies topped Group A after bagging wins against Algeria and Mali, and drawing with tournament hosts Ghana.

Cameroon will be hungry for revenge, and this is not a game that Nigeria should take lightly, with an 11th continental crown and potentially a place in next year’s Women’s World Cup in France, hanging in the balance.

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