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Nigeria 3-0 New Zealand: Player Ratings as Falcons continue to win the heart of Nigerians

The Super Falcons of Nigeria have secured a convincing 3-0 win against Ferns of New Zealand in a friendly match played in Antalya, Turkey on Tuesday.

A first-half header from captain Onome Ebi, and goals from Jennifer Echegini, and Desire Oparanozie handed Nigeria an easy win against New Zealand for their third in a row.

Super Falcons completed a double win during this international break, defeating Haiti 2-1 which many fans thought it was a fluke, and now a 3-0 win against New Zealand.

Here are five observations from the game as Falcons continue to win Nigerians’ hearts.

The Starting XI

1. Chiamaka Nnadozie (8)

No going past Chiamaka
No going past Chiamaka

Solid 8 for Chiamaka, good communication, and command of her area. Was comfortable throughout the game. She made saves when tested as she kept another clean sheet.

22. Michelle Alozie (8)

Flying full-back Michelle Alozie played a great game down right, running the show. She combined well with Toni Payne.

Alozie was rock solid on both ends of the game, doing a great job when she had to defend and also flying forward to help in the attack.

5. Onome Ebi (8)

As one of her critics, I will be the first to admit she is shockingly still important to the team. Onome Ebi scored Nigeria’s first with a powerful header.

She then helped keep out New Zealand attackers from scoring against Nigeria. The only but was the backpass she gave in the second half that would have resulted in a goal, but Chiamaka came to her rescue.

With her performances, it is safe to say congratulations to her on becoming the first oldest player to play at six FIFA Women’s World Cups.

Captain onome ebi preparing to kick out the ball
Captain Onome Ebi preparing to kick out the ball

14. Tosin Demhin (7)

Tosin Demhin had a quiet but composed game. She is gradually improving and laying claim for a spot in the Super Falcons’ defense. She kept the New Zealand attackers quiet and combined well with her skipper, Onome Ebi.

20. Rofiat Imuran (7)

Imuran after defending her post
Imuran after defending her post

Rofiat had a shaky start but once she settled down thanks to instruction from the sidelines she did her job very well defensively, cutting line-of-pass and collapsing to make it a back three to help the center halves.

She didn’t offer much going forward like Alozie on the other side of the pitch, it could be a tactical move considering Rasheedat Ajibade was the one playing ahead of her.

16. Halimatu Ayinde (7)

Silently running the show in the midfield of the pack alongside Jennifer Echegini. Ayinde didn’t have many highlights but she was in the middle doing the dirty work.

Jennifer and Waldrum discussing tactics
Jennifer and Waldrum discussing tactics

3. Jennifer Echegini (9)

Jennifer Echegini has to be the player of the match, she got Nigeria’s second goal, and apart from the goal she was everywhere on the pitch, covering every blade of the grace.

It felt like I was watching a Ngolo Kante for a moment. Echegini was a breath of fresh air, she adds bite, and composure to the middle of the pack.

She continues this way, she just has to be one of the first names on the list at the World Cup.

7. Toni Payne (8)

Tasked with the creative role, Payne faired well in this role. She was finding the pockets, occupying the tiny holes, and combining with the midfielders and the right fullback.

Another game playing in the creative role, another excellent display.

15. Rasheedat Ajibade (6.5)

It was not the best of games for Ajibade who should easily score two goals today. She missed two one-on-one chances in the second half and sometimes was delaying her pass too much.

She brought her usual energy and was chasing the New Zealand players down right but she is not playing to the standard she set or we know her to give.

It could be because she is now playing further back in the midfield, we need her to rediscover the form of the girl with blue hair.

8. Asisat Oshoala (6.5)

Asisat on her out
Asisat on her out

Not one of her best games, left the game in the 74th minute limping, and hope no injuries. She played centrally in the first half, and played on the left flank when Oparanozie was subbed on.

She had more chances to score when she switched to the flank than when she played centrally, she was released twice but the end product on both instances was below her standard.

Waldrum must find a way to play her and Desire Oparanozie at the World Cup. Not sure she wants to play on the flank but that is her best position for the Super Eagles.

21. Esther Okoronkwo (6)

Not one of her best games was subbed off for Desire Oparanozie in the 50th minute of the game.

The Substitutes

9. Desire Oparanozie (8)

Oparanozie on action
Oparanozie in action

Solid 8, great outing again for Desire Oparanozie, the first goal in two games since her return. She has only played a total of 65 minutes – 25 minutes against Haiti, and 40 minutes against New Zealand.

She deserves the 9 spot. Oparanozie is the only player in that team that could score the goal she scored – she shielded the defender with her body before firing past the goalie.

17. Gift Monday (NA)
Came in for Asisat Oshoala in the 75th minute of the game.
13. Ngozie Okobi (NA)
Came for Toni Payne in the 82nd minute of the game.
4. Glory Ogbonna (NA)

With three consecutive wins, scoring six goals in their conceding only one of those games, Nigerians are beginning to trust the Super Falcons again.

Nigeria Grouped alongside cohosts, Australia, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland will participate at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup scheduled for 20 July to 20 August.

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