A brace by captain Rasheedat Ajibade and one each by Uchenna Kanu and Asisat Oshoala saw the Super Falcons reach the third round of the African qualifiers for next year’s Women Olympic Football Tournament on a 5-1 aggregate win over Ethiopia.
The nine-time African champions will next meet the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon in the race.
A rather tepid first half saw Oshoala bungle a couple of opportunities and Uchenna Kanu miss from six yards. Kalsa Aregash also saw her shot saved by goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, and from a 20-yard free-kick, captain Loza Abera tried to slot above Nnadozie without success.
Just before referee Edoh Kindidje from Togo blew for recess, Oluwatosin Demehin sent a long ball forward and Kanu, who scored Nigeria’s first goal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in the summer, easily beat two defenders by watching the bounce of the ball, and then raced to slot past goalkeeper Tarikua Bergena for Nigeria’s first goal.
Five minutes into the second period, and just about the time she netted Nigeria’s equalizer in Addis Ababa six days earlier, captain Ajibade stepped up to flash into the net for Nigeria’s second goal, a cross from Oshoala as the Barcelona Feminine forward darted past two defenders on the right.
In the 68th minute, Oshoala turned scorer, heaving herself up to meet Kanu’s measured pull-out from the left with a close-range header that left Bergena totally helpless.
The visitors, now overwhelmed, sought to limit the damage, but it was not to be as Ajibade, lithe and sparse and dangerous as ever, sneaked in to bundle the ball past Bergena four minutes later after another cross from Oshoala.
Spain-based Ajibade nearly got her hat-trick on the dot of time, when she flashed a shot from 27 yards that went narrowly away.
Victory means the Super Falcons will now meet the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon, who overturned a 2-0 defeat in Kampala to defeat Uganda 3-0 after extra time in Yaounde on Tuesday night