Gift enlivens Onikan as Super Falcons beat Mali in opening game
Super Falcons’ attacker, Monday Gift, lit the Mobolaji Johnson Arena Onikan, yesterday, with a brace that saw off brave Mali. It was the opening game of the maiden Aisha Buhari Invitational Women Football Tournament, which drew fans and football aficionados from across the world to the host city, Lagos.
The Maliens, who came into the game determined to halt Nigeria’s dominance of games between both countries, gave the Super Falcons as much as they received until Coach Waldrum brought in Gift and Uchenna Kanu.
The visiting Female Eagles had survived a raid on their area in the 5th minute as Nigeria looked to go into the lead with a corner, but the defence cleared. Nine minutes later, Ordega side netted from another quick dash upfront, and in the 18th minute, Ageusissa Diarra tested goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie from a 30-yard free-kick.
In the second half, Nigeria’s new entrants, Gift, and Kanu, combined with the experienced Skipper Asisat Oshoala, Francisca Ordega, and Desire Oparanozie to unlock the unsettled Malien defence.
The Falcons’ dominance finally paid off in the 82nd minute when Gift powered in a header off a cross by Oshoala.
The Lagos-based Gift made victory certain for Nigeria in added time when she lobbed the ball over Mali’s goalkeeper off a pass by Oshoala.