The Super Falcons secured their spot in the upcoming Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Cape Verde at the Estádio Nacional de Cabo Verde in Praia this Tuesday.
In the reverse encounter last Thursday at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja, the Nigerian team displayed dominance with a resounding 5-0 win, thanks to a brace from Uchenna Kanu and goals from Esther Okoronkwo and Gift Monday.
Despite missing key players such as star striker Asisat Oshoala and defender Ashleigh Plumptre, Justin Madugu's side aimed for a repeat performance against Cape Verde. The hosts, however, had different plans, opening the scoring in the 8th minute with a goal from Racing Power striker Ivania Moreira.
The Super Falcons fought to level the score, but Cape Verde held on to their lone goal advantage into halftime. The second half saw a determined Nigerian side pressing for an equalizer. Madugu made a strategic substitution, bringing in Okoronkwo for Kanu. Although Okoronkwo's 55th-minute goal was initially ruled offside, she persevered and secured the much-awaited equalizer seven minutes later with a solo finish, maintaining the five-goal aggregate tally.
Okoronkwo continued to trouble the Cape Verde defense, almost providing an assist for Toni Payne, who, unfortunately, couldn't beat the opposition goalkeeper Jacinta Rodrigues. Acting captain Rasheedat Ajibade also came close to giving the Falcons the lead, but her effort narrowly missed the post.
The Cape Verde goalkeeper, Rodrigues, faced constant pressure from Payne and Okoronkwo, maintaining a deadlock on the scoreline. The breakthrough finally came in the 93rd minute, as Ajibade found the net to seal the victory for the Super Falcons.