Nigeria move closer to World Cup qualification with a ravishing 3 goals to nothing victory against their hapless hostesses the Young Leopards of Congo.
Goals from beautiful Blessing Emmanuel, audacious Oluwatunmininu Adeshina and tantalising Taiwo Ajakaye were all it took to send their Congolese counterparts to the gallows.
Congo Under-17 Women's coach Lry Mafobe had said her girls were capable of get causing a major upset against the more illustrious Nigerian Flamingos. But she must have been upset when her team’s defence was breached before Blessing blasted home for Nigeria’s first goal in 36 minutes.
Before then, Nigeria goalkeeper Omilana had to be as agile as a leopard to keep out two sure-fire goal bound efforts in 32 and 35 minutes which sent a clear statement of Congolese intent.
But in truth, the flamboyant Nigerians too had peppered Congolese goal with efforts that rattled the home fans as Afolabi, Ajakaye and Alvine all came closer to breaking the deadlock in the first 25 minutes.
There had been much razzmatazz and build up to this match to suggest Nigeria’s 36th minute lead would not be the only goal of the encounter; but the first half ended 1:0 nonetheless.
With the Congolese coach still expecting her girls to rise to the occasion, it was Nigeria goalkeeper Omilana who rose highest to deny a definite goal bound effort from Masanga’s free-kick in 50 minutes – the Nigerian coaching contingents could be seen heaving a sigh of relief.
In fact, Omilana was having a career defining outing as she helped Nigeria repel wave after wave of Congolese onslaught with deft defying saves that provided reassurance that the Super Falcons should expect to replenish their stock of fabulous goalkeepers in seasons to come.
There were injury scares for Nigeria as Bello and Adeshina had to be ‘repaired’ by medics.
But what suffered the most brutal injury was the pride of the hostesses after Oluwatunmininu Adeshina stabbed home Nigeria’s second goal in 66 minutes with a goal that was swish and swanky.
Still reeling from that shock, more tragedy was to befall the Congolese as Ajakaye’s irreverent effort in 76 minutes made Nigeria’s lead more or less unassailable even with 14 minutes to go; Congo had been reduced to 10 girls in 70 minutes following Nwaji’s reckless tackle on Nigeria striker Dah Zossu.
The combat ebbed and flowed from that point with Nigeria even coming closer to increasing the lead but 3:0 it ended.
This was an emphatic and uplifting victory for the Damsels of Nigeria who brought nothing but distress for their hostesses. The second leg is scheduled for the 19th of March in Benin City. The overall winners have to attempt to mummify the Nefertitis of Egypt who lie in wait in the next round of qualifiers.
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