The Super Falcons surpassed themselves against Burundi today by thrashing the debutants Burundi 4 goals to nil.
Uchenna Kanu helped herself to two loaves of the goals with Ajibade and Peace pillaging 1 each.
Randy Waldrum’s ladies dominated from start to finish. This emphatic outcome delighted many fans but Cameroon in the quarter final will provide a supreme test.
For now, let's see how the Falcons and their coach rated in this match.
1) Chiamaka Nnadozie (7/10) earns high marks for her excellent distribution. A long ball from the goalkeeper could have led to an assist had Onumonu scored. Chiamaka was cool, calm and collected on and off the ball and alert to make the odd routine saves.
2) Nicole Payne (6.5/10) retrieved the ball very well from the opposition and executed her tackles to a high standard. She combined very well with her fellow defenders and her recovery rate - after initially losing the ball - was exemplary. Her attacking forays were not excessive.
3) Osinachi Ohale (8/10) was the proverbial thorn in the flesh of the Burundians as her long balls caused them no end of problems. One of those insane deep balls from defence located Ajibade who was felled for a penalty.
Another one provided the pre-assist for Nigeria's 3rd goal while another one led to Kanu scoring but the goal was controversially ruled offside. There were many more. She performed her primary defensive duties with distinction.
4) Onome Ebi (6.5/10) was business-like in her defensive duties . Her short range passes were crisp while her long range ones held promise. She is a stalwart of Nigeria's centre back and she proved her maturity with a calming display before being subbed off in 45 minutes.
5) Toni Payne (7/10) was great tonight with her neat passes, clever interplays, timely tackles, great shadowing, cunning markings, purposeful overlapping runs and clever deliveries from promising positions. One of her looping crosses was blocked before it could cause mayhem.
6) Peace Efih (8/10) took to her role like a duck to water with a compelling all round midfield display capped with a neat goal.
She had another effort deflected and a ground cross from her inside the 18 yard box was blocked by the opposition. She retrieved and recycled the ball exceptionally well while her tacklings and mop ups were carried out to exceedingly well.
7) Christie Ucheibe (7/10) played her part in helping the Falcons dominate the midfield. She got stuck into tackles and did her best to unsettle the Burundians. She had a header go wide before blasting a shot from distance, only to drag another presentable shot just wide. She was a willing runner.
8) The highlight of Ngozi Okobi's (6.5/10) evening was a sublime floating freekick that was just begging for a connection. Other than that, she was in sync with the movements of her colleagues. She performed a 1-2 routine with Ajibade at one point whilst keeping most of her passes simple, neat and tidy.
9) Rasheedat Ajibade (9/10) is undoubtedly turning out to be one of the Super Falcons' standout players in this tournament.
She was penetrative with her runs from the flanks, one of which led to the penalty that she earned and converted. She also provided a hattrick of assists which is just crazy. Her movements and crosses caused problems all night as she was in tune with the movements of her colleagues which helped the team keep its shape and allowed her to wreak havoc.
10) Uchenna Kanu (8/10) provided much needed width on the left side. Her runs were troublesome and purposeful and a good number of her deliveries had to be dealt with. She could have converted a good number of chances but she still bagged herself 2 neat goals. If she works on her finishing, she will get more goals.
11) Ifeoma Anumanu (7/10) performed various aspects of her center forward role with acceptable maturity tonight. That said, there were times when passing to Ajibade or others would have been more prudent but she elected to shoot.
A long range pass from goalkeeper Nnadozie could have been controlled and passed to Ajibade but Onumonu elected to shoot and nothing came of that presentable opportunity.
Onumonu was brilliantly fluid tonight. She popped up in midfield (where she provided a pre-assist for Nigeria's 2nd goal) and the flanks where she released some lovely passes to Kanu and others. She had some of her shots and crosses saved but again, some of those could have been passed to colleagues in better positions.
12) Coach Randy Waldrum (7/10) has settled for 4-3-3 formation throughout this tournament and it served him well tonight. There was width on the flanks and vision from the centre back with the midfield being fluid and mobile.
His player selection was spot on and how they were arranged was brilliant. From Peace to Ajibade to Kanu to Ohale, all the players represented square pegs in square holes.
For the first time in the tournament, his substitutes actually reduced the intensity of the game today rather than the other way round like in previous games. Super Falcons were on the front foot from the off and Nigeria were the only teams that Burundi failed to score against in the group.
Although they scored 4 goals, the Super Falcons were still slightly profligate. But in all, a good day in the office for Waldrum.
13) Monday Gift (7/10) wasn't shy to attempt dribbling past the opposition, some of which were successful. She executed most of her passes well and she took up promising positions. Some of her efforts were blocked while poor end product was her undoing on a few other occasions.
14) Vivian Ikechukwu (6/10) attempted to bulldoze her way into dangerous areas on occasions. She had a decent cross blocked and all round, her movements were commendable.
15) Chinoreyem Macleans (5/10) got into good positions but let herself down with questionable end product. She scuffed a shot on one occasion and elected to round the goalkeeper which was unsuccessful where a chip could have served her well. She is yet to grab her limited opportunities with both legs.
16) Akudo Ogbonna (5/10) came in and slotted into the defence with relative ease. Nothing fell apart with her introduction.
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