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Nigeria march to first 2022 WAFCON victory with commanding performance against Botswana

Nigeria’s Super Falcons responded well to their opening match defeat to South Africa at the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations, controlling play against Botswana for a 2-0 victory on Thursday. Ifeoma Onumonu opened the scoring and Christy Ucheibe tallied in the second half to put Nigeria beyond reach, moving the Super Falcons into second place in Group C ahead of their final group stage match where they will be heavy favorites against Burundi. Botswana, on three points as well, will face group leaders South Africa where the result could be crucial in their hopes to reach the quarterfinals.

The pressure was on for 11-time WAFCON champions Nigeria, who faced plenty of criticism for their defeat to South Africa with nothing less than a win being an acceptable result. Controlling the play in the first half, the Super Falcons found the opener in the 21st minute to give themselves some breathing room. Midfielder Halimatu Ayinde provided a well weighted through ball to find Onumonu, who calmly finished low past advancing Botswana goalkeeper Maitumelo Bosija.

Botswana struggled to possess the ball and opportunities moving forward were limited with Refilwe Tholakele’s hopeful 38th minute effort easily corralled by Nigeria keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie. A quick start to the second half for Nigeria put the match all but beyond reach when they doubled their lead in the 48th minute. A corner kick from American-born midfielder Toni Payne found halftime substitute Ucheibe at the edge of the six-yard box for a powerful header that left Bosija with no chance.

Nigeria continued to control the match and Ucheibe nearly scored again six minutes later, turning and firing over the bar following a free kick service into the penalty area. A few more opportunities should have seen the Super Falcons increase their lead but Botswana never provided much of a threat and Nigeria held out without any trouble in the second half.

Highlights are below.

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