AWCON: Nigeria cruise past Zambia to keep campaign hopes alive

Nigeria got their Africa Women Cup of Nations campaign back on track with a convincing win against Zambia on Wednesday.

After slipping to a shock 1-0 loss in their opening game against South Africa, the eight-time champions needed a performance to silence their critics.

They responded in style with a win that was far more comprehensive than the 4-0 scoreline indicated.

In terms of team news, Thomas Dennerby made one change to the team that lost to South Africa on Sunday — with Ngozi Okobi taking the place of youngster Rasheedat Ajibade. Zambia, in contrast, maintained the starting XI that thrashed Equatorial Guinea 5-0.

Playing with an intensity that was badly lacking against Banyana Banyana, the Nigerians swarmed all over the Zambians.

They flooded forward at will from the outset and twice went close to scoring in the opening 20 minutes, with Asisat Oshoala’s effort — Nigeria’s first shot on target in the tournament — after racing on to Rita Chikwelu’s long ball saved; and captain Onome Ebi denied after connecting with Ngozi Okobi’s cornerkick.

Despite the early dominance, it took 40 minutes for the opener to arrive. Francisca Ordega sprinted down the left flank before squaring the ball to Desire Oparanozie, who slotted home from six metres.

Ordega then turned scorer on 69 minutes to double the lead. Asisat Oshoala — who was guilty of missing a flurry of chances — found Oparanozie with a neat pass. The striker could only hit the upright, but the ball fell kindly to Ordega, who curled beyond Hazel Nali in the Zambia goal.

Debutant Rasheedat Ajibade came off the bench to fire in the third. The 19-year-old scored with a fierce shot which went in via the underside of the crossbar — with Oshoala claiming the assist.

Amarachi Okoronkwo completed the rout in stoppage time when she fired in from the edge of the box after Nali’s poor clearance.