Nigeria Super Falcons produced an improved overall performance on Tuesday night but lost narrowly 2-1 to the USA Women’s National team in an entertaining friendly game in Washington DC.
The former African champions had lost 4-0 against the multiple times world champions in the first instalment of their two-legged friendly on Saturday but produced a response of a performance on Tuesday night.
Head coach Randy Waldrum made a few changes to the starting lineup and gave first national team starts to Falconets captain Tosin Demehin and left back Rofiat Imuran while Netherlands born Jennifer Echegini also earned a rare start.
The Falcons seemed to hold their own in the opening exchanges with Demehin especially imposing herself in the centre half position. However, it was the Rivers United defender that gave the hosts the lead in the 24th minute.
After the Americans worked their way beyond Nigeria’s right side of defence, Mallory Pugh’s low cross was diverted between the legs of goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie by Demehin as the Audi Field erupted.
The first half ended that way, although Nnadozie was called upon to deny the Americans on a couple of occasions while the Nigerians also had a few attempts on goal from long range.
FT: USA 2-1 Nigeria— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) September 7, 2022
Uchenna Kanu with Nigeria's goal early in the 2nd half. First time the Falcons are scoring against USA since Mercy Akide scored in a 1-3 defeat at the Sydney Olympics 2000.
Improved performance from the Falcons, solid displays by U20 stars Demehin and Imuran. pic.twitter.com/YQkZjQnGhp
At half time, Waldrum replaced Echegini with Mexico based Uchenna Kanu. Nigeria then drew level in the 50th minute through Kanu who produced a sublime curling finish to a Glory Ogbonna pass.
Kanu’s goal ended USA’s run of 880 minutes without conceding a goal in international football and also marked the first time Nigeria will score against the Americans since 2000.
The World Champions had the last laugh though as the legendary Megan Rapinoe came off the bench to provide the assist for the winning goal in the 66th minute. She capitalised on a lapse in concentration before crossing brilliantly for Rosemary Lavelle whose header went in off the inside of the post.
The Nigerians will hold their heads high and find worthy encouragement as they begin preparations for next year’s World Cup. They were without household names: Asisat Oshoala, Onome Ebi, Ashleigh Plumptre, Halimatu Ayinde and a host of others for this tour of the United States.
Nnadozie; G. Ogbonna (Nicole Payne 62′), Ohale, Demehin, Imuran; Ucheibe (Amandi Mbadim 82′), Toni Payne, Jenny Echegini (Uchenna Kanu 56′); Rasheedat Ajibade, Michelle Alozie (Vivian Ikechukwu 82′), Ifeoma Onumonu (Gift Monday 79′)