Arsenal Ladies’ striker, Asisat Oshoala was in superb form for the Super Falcons after scoring four goals to help Nigeria start its title defence of the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) with a 6-0 drubbing against Mali at the Stade Municipal de Limbe, Sunday. Francisca Ordega and Uchechi Sunday got in among the goals.
Head coach of the African champions, Florence Omagbemi, named a start list without Desire Oparanozie with Sunday preferred upfront alongside Arsenal Ladies striker, Oshoala. Faith Ikidi, Onome Ebi, Ordega, Halimatu Ayinde and Captain Rita Chikwelu completed Nigeria’s list of overseas-based team.
Mali head coach, Oumar Guindo, listed three of the four France-based players in his 11 for this game. Dejnaba Baradji, Sebe Coulibaly and Aissatou Diadhiou were the France-based trio that started.
Seven minutes into the game, Uchechi Sunday’s knockdown played Oshoala through on goal but the Arsenal Ladies forward applied a first heavy touch and allowed the ball to bubble out of play to the relief of Mali stopper Samake Goundo.
On 15 minutes, Oshoala’s cutback into Mali’s box was met by Washington Spirit forward, Ordega, whose effort was blocked before FC Minsk midfielder Halimat Ayinde dragged her attempt off target.
However, Goundo could not stop Ordega from passing the ball into the bottom corner from a low cross to give Nigeria a deserved one-nil lead.
Mali’s only threat in the game came from one of their France-based stars, Baradji though the Nigerian backline anchored by Onome Ebi kept her in check.
Five minutes before the break, Oshoala doubled Nigeria’s lead. The Malians made a meal of a clearance and Osarenoma Igbinovia picked out Oshoala who skipped past Mali’s custodian to score.
Less than two minutes into the restart, a poor challenge by Sacko on Igbinovia gifted Nigeria spot kick and South Korea-based striker, Sunday, calmly side-footed the ball past a despairing Malian goalkeeper for the third goal to the championship.
Nigeria went four goals up on 64 minutes through Oshoala. A through-ball from the back freed up the Arsenal Ladies forward, who beat her Malian marker, Oumou Tangara for pace before rounding Goundo and then calmly picked her spot to score her second of the afternoon.
Four minutes later, the Arsenal Ladies striker’s pace was again too much to cope for the Malian defence and she effortlessly slotted in Nigeria’s fifth of the game and her hat-trick.