Nigeria’s Super Falcons put up one of their best performances in recent years to thrash World Cup co-hosts New Zealand 3-0 in a Pre-FIFAWWC friendly game on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s game played at the Mardan Sports Complex, Antalya in Turkey provided the Super Falcons with a chance to play a second friendly game in five days after earlier beating Haiti 2-1 in the same city on Friday.
On the occasion of the 100 days countdown to the commencement of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, Falcons head coach Randy Waldrum stuck to the starting eleven that beat Haiti for the clash with the Oceanian side.
The decision ultimately proved to be a masterstroke as the Super Falcons showed better cohesion than they had in recent years and improved understanding among individual players.
Good result but a lot needs to be done.— BettingRepublic 🇦🇷🇳🇬 (@BettingRepublic) April 11, 2023
~ Okoronkwo should no where be a starter.
~ The coach must sort out Ajibade’s position.
~ Onome is too slow and erratic
~ Payne is yet to convince
~ We need pacy wingers
~ Any day any time Oparanozie offers more than Ifeoma
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The Falcons got their noses in front in the 35th minute when captain Onome Ebi – who had earlier urged her teammates to keep up Friday’s form – headed home Toni Payne’s corner kick. Her looping header flying in beyond the despairing hands of goalkeeper Victoria Esson.
Nigeria doubled their advantage shortly after the break when Jennifer Onyi Echegini made a ghosting run inside the box to stab home Michelle Alozie’s right wing cross from close range, giving the Falcons more room to exhibit some artistry against the Football Ferns of New Zealand.
The healthy advantage allowed Waldrum the opportunity to give minutes to some of the players on his bench. Introducing Desire Oparanozie, Ngozi Okobi and Gift Monday for Ijeoma Okoronkwo, Payne and Asisat Oshoala; the latter coming off with some injury.
It was Oparanozie who added gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time when she strongly held off her marker, turn to her right before slotting home beyond the Esson.
The full time whistle brought joy, smiles and laughter to the faces of the Super Falcons who seem relieved for ending what was the worst run in their history and now having a good run of results once again.
But for the Ferns, defeat stretched their abysmal run since the end of the Tokyo Olympics now to ten matches without a win. They are now in a race to be ready for the World Cup as Tuesday’s game presented their last major test before the tournament.
Nigeria are in Group B at the Women’s World Cup alongside co-hosts Australia, Canada and the Republic of Ireland.
Nnadozie; Alozie (G. Ogbonna 88′), Demehin, Ebi, Imuran; Ayinde, Echegini, T. Payne (Okobi 80′); Ajibade, Okoronkwo (Oparanozie 46′), Oshoala (G. Monday 75′)