4 November 2010

Nigeria: Falcons Dismiss Banyana

Photo: Vanguard
The Super Falcons celebrate.

Perpetua Nkwocha followed up her opening day hat trick with a brace on Thursday as Nigeria got one foot in the semifinals of the African Women's Championships.

The Super Falcons edged South Africa's Banyana Banyana 2-1 in an entertaining game at the Sinaba Stadium in South Africa.

The Sunnana forward squeezed in her fourth goal of the tournament on a 20th minute breakaway, and glanced in her fifth from Ulunma Jerome's cornerkick six minutes from the break.

Janine van Wyk halved the deficit for South Africa in first half stoppage time with a fabulous free kick that zipped over a static Nigerian wall and into the top right hand corner.

Local media had hyped this game as the 'big game of the group stages', but the five time champions did not look like they took the game that seriously.

Coach Eucharia Uche was smilingly ebullient as ever prematch, and reflective of that attitude, made three changes to her starting line up, bringing in three youngsters into the starting eleven.

Gloria Iroka, Ebere Orji and Ugochi Oparanozie all came in for Loveth Ayila, Esther Sunday and Amarachi Okoronkwo.

With South Africa pressing early on, the Falcons stayed relaxed but were nearly punished when reckless defending twice let in Banyana Banyana.

Goalkeeper Precious Dede spilled an early ball, but recovered quickly to smother as Banyana captain Helen Matlou steadied to pull the trigger.

Then a bit of indecisive defending from Onome Ebi left the ball bobbing dangerously around the area. Again, it was Matlou who was there to take advantage. And again Dede had to be at her best to tip the African Player of the Year's header over for a corner kick.

Nigeria had also threatened before then. The pace of Oparanozie and Orji, the Under 20 World Cup combo, causing problems for centrebacks Janine van Wyk and Kylie Ann Louw.

Oparanozie showed strength to hold off her marker, and pace to burn her, only to find her left foot effort spilled by the keeper. Her pace had been too much even for her teammates and there was no one to follow up.

Oparanozie then borke down the right channel, again her pace was too much as Nkwocha failed to arrive on time to touch in her fine low delivery across the face of goal.

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