By Ajibola Abayomi,
Three goals scored from counter –attacking positions steered the Nigeria U20 girls, Falconets, to a 5-1 trouncing of their visiting Moroccan counterparts at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Saturday evening.
A 45 –minute rainstorm swept through the stadium and environs just before kick –off, necessitating a delay that actually led to a meeting in which the Match Commissioner, Soudatou Djallo-Kalkaba from Cameroon had ruled that the match would be played on Sunday. However, a dramatic change in weather led to a change of heart, and the match began 83 minutes behind schedule.
In the event, the Faconets started like a house on fire, with Rasheedat Ajibade, Anam Imo and Monday Gift combining brilliantly. One of those moves saw Ajibade finishing off with a simple tap –in after Gift’s cross from the left after five minutes.
Nine minutes later, Gift herselt was not to be denied, holding off Esaadia El Barrah to slot past goalkeeper Houda Benazid for Nigeria’s second.
The Moroccans were not deterred. The brilliant Fatima Tagnaout gave them hope when her free –kick from the right was helped into Nigeria’s net by goalkeeper Onyinyechukwu Okeke with 10 minutes left in the first period. This goal heartened the Moroccans as they ran all over the turf looking for an equalizer.
In the second period, the Falconets had missed a hatful of chances before substitute Charity Reuben
heaved the ball over a defender and rammed the ball into the net in the 77th minute. Just as the fourth official showed three minutes time –added on in the second half, Ajibade latched onto the ball and beat the Moroccan defence for pace before slotting past Benazid. A minute later, she combined with Reuben on another counter –attack, passing to the latter to push into an empty net for Nigeria’s fifth.
The Falconets will now clash with their South African counterparts in the final round of the African qualifiers. The South Africans hammered Burundi 5-0 for a 5-2 aggregate. South Africa will host the first leg on 13th January 2018.