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Oshoala on target as Super Falcons pip Haiti in Antalya

Fast-rising Okoronkwo impresses, Oparanozie makes return

FC Barcelona Femeni forward Asisat Oshoala was among the goals as Nigeria’s Super Falcons secured a 2-1 win over Haiti in the first of their two friendlies in Antalya. The Nigerians picked up only their second win in nine internationals under Randy Waldrum.

Much had been made of the attacking firepower at the disposal of the Super Falcons following the return of Oshoala and Desire Oparanozie to the squad, and it was on show from the opening exchanges in Turkey. Oshoala led the line and thought she had opened the scoring within 22 minutes as she swept home from close range, only to be denied by the assistant’s flag.

After a period of extended dominance, the Super Falcons took the lead in the 40th minute through rising star Esther Okoronkwo. The scorer of the winner against Costa Rica last time out, Okoronkwo took aim from an acute angle and drilled a free-kick which squirmed through the grasp of the Haitian goalkeeper to open the scoring.

Atletico Madrid Femenino star Rasheedat Ajibade was a whisker away from doubling the side’s advantage in the stroke of half-time as her fizzed strike from the edge of the box flew just wide.

The Super Falcons started the second half as they ended the first, dominating proceedings against the side that will also be part of the FIFA World Cup in New Zealand. There was an early scare as young Reims defender Tosin Demehin had to head a goal-bound effort clear to preserve the African giants’ lead.

The Falcons were rewarded for their persistence as Oshoala added her name to the scoresheet after 58 minutes. A corner was met by the head of a Haitian defender, who sent the ball into the air. Jennifer Echegini rose highest to direct a header goalwards, forcing the goalkeeper into a sharp save via the crossbar. The ball fell to Oshoala, who couldn’t miss from three yards out.

Haiti grew into the game after conceding a second and tested Chiamaka Nnadozie before taking full advantage of a defensive mix-up to pull one back after 75 minutes.

The Super Falcons ended up holding on for a precious win as they ramp up preparations for the World Cup. They will face hosts New Zealand in another friendly in this window.

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