Nigeria reaffirmed their superiority over West African neighbours, Mali with an emphatic 6-0 victory at the Limbe Omnisports Stadium, with four goals from Asisat Oshoala ensuring a perfect start to their title defence at the 10th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
There were also goals from Francisca Ordega and Uchechi Sunday as the Super Falcons shot themselves to the top of Group B.
As if both teams were still trying to size themselves up after the first blast of the whistle, the first five minutes of the match yearned for action, with spectators still trickling into the stadium.
However, the game gradually came alive with the Super Falcons enjoying the larger share of possession, and the their first real threat at goal saw Faith Ikidi head Captain Rita Chikwelu’s freekick wide. The referee asked that the freekick be retaken, but this time it went out of play.
Time and time again in the first half, Asisat Oshoala, who finished as the Most Valuable Player in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations held in Namibia in 2014, ensured her intimidating pace was put to use.
It was evident in the build up to Nigeria’s first goal, as it was her pass to Right Back Ugo Njoku, which finally landed at the boot of Francisca Ordega. Ordega made no mistake as she slotted into the bottom left corner.
Oshoala had her name on the score sheet twenty minutes later, after Osarenoma Igbinovia intercepted a back pass from Mali’s goalkeeper, Goundo Samake.
As the encounter appraoched the half way mark, Uchechi Sunday, who had been guilty of missing chances, and Asisat Oshoala both missed opportunities to make it 3-0 in favour of the defending champions.
Few minutes into the second half Uchechi Sunday finally gets a goal from the spot after Osarenoma Igbinovia was hacked down. She was then substituted for Chioma Nwogu, whose energetic display resulted in two goals in five minutes for Asisat Oshoala.
On both occasions, the Arsenal Ladies forward found herself one on one with Mali’s goalkeeper, Samake.
A fourth goal for Asisat came in similar fashion in the 77th minute after she latched onto Rita Chikwelu’s cross.
Nigeria’s next match will be against Ghana on November 23 by 4pm, after which Mali will take on debutantes Kenya.