The Super Falcons on Thursday walloped their counterparts from Cape Verde 5-0 in the first leg of their 2024 Women Africa Cup of Nations final round qualifying fixture in Abuja.
Uchenna Kanu, with a first-half brace, and substitute Esther Okoronkwo, with a second-half brace, swept the nine-time African champions into a comfortable lead in the fixture.
The result earned the Super Falcons a place in the finals slated for Morocco in the summer of 2024.
Gift Monday rocked the bar from a 22-yard free-kick in the 4th minute before Kanu benefitted from a goalmouth scramble that followed a corner kick to slot past goalkeeper Jacinta Rodrigues.
Rodrigues did better two minutes later when she palmed a left-footed angled drive from captain Rasheedat Ajibade.
In the 14th minute, Kleydiana Borges came close with a shot that was charged down by Oluwatosin Demehin.
Toni Payne missed from close range to let off the Cape Verdeans, five minutes later.
However, Gift Monday made good from another goalmouth melee in the 25th minute, to make it two for the hosts at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
Petite midfielder Deborah Abiodun, whose turns, swerves and sweet touches were a delight all evening, came close with a 25-yard volley on the half-hour mark.
But Kanu made good again just before the break, making no mistake from a pass from Toni Payne on a swift counter-attack launched by Ajibade.
In the second half, the Falcons again completely dominated, with Okoronkwo lifting the ball past Rodrigues in the 67th minute.
This was after she received a lovely cross from Ajibade by the right.
She then shot past the visiting goalkeeper from a Rofiat Imuran cross from the left with 13 minutes left.
Speaking after match coach, Justin Madugu, said the game was still work in progress.
He said the girls will always give their best for the country any time.
Madugu commended Abiodun for her superlative performance, adding that she needed to be encouraged.
“We thank God the game was won and lost. The game is still a work in progress. We are not going to relent.
“”The girls did what was expected of them and they played according to the game plan.
“We were able to analyse the Cape Verdeans game but it doesn’t mean that we are not going to give our best during the return leg next Wednesday,”he said.
Also speaking, the Cape Verde coach, Silvenia Nedio, congratulated Nigeria for their victory.
She said Nigeria is a super power country in African football, and she is not surprised about the scoreline.
The coach was optimistic that anything can happen during the return leg in Cape Verde.
“Everything can happen in seconds in Cape Verde and that we know.
“We have learnt a lot from this game and we’ll always give our best. We are doing everything possible to improve the women national team.
“We have nine players that played outside Cape Verde but most of our players play at home.
“But we’ll always give our best at all times. The captain, Vansenia da Luz also corroborated the coach’s submission saying they will continue to learn and give their best,”he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that both teams will clash in the second leg in Praia, capital of Cape Verde on Dec. 5. (NAN)