Nigeria’s male and female football teams, the Dream Team VI Eagles and the Super Falcons have qualified for the 2015 All Africa Games (AAG) in Brazzaville, Congo in September to banish the image of missing the last edition.
The Under 23 Eagles led by Samson Siasia pulled a shocking 2-1 away victory against Zambia at the Heroes National Stadium in Lusaka on Sunday, April 12 to qualify on 2-1 aggregate.
The Falcons, on the other hand, thrashed their Malian counterpart 8-0 in the second leg of the female AAG qualifiers played inside the Abuja National Stadium on Friday, April 10 to pick the prized slot on 9-1 goal aggregate.
The Zambians who battled the Eagles to a scoreless draw in Abuja in the first leg of the qualifiers went into the game with confidence and dominated possession earlier on. But their dream of reaching the AAG finals at the expense of a formidable Nigerian team was shattered by two goals from striker, Taiwo Awoniyi.
The Flying Eagles invitee’s exquisite finish in the 34th minute gave Nigeria the vital lead but a rejuvenated Zambians fought back in the second half to drew level through Friday Samu in the 76th minute. However, Awoniyi’s well-driven strike in the 86th minutes sealed victory for Nigeria.
The 17-year-old Kalmar FF of Sweden striker, rather than take the praise for his heroic exploits that rescued Nigeria, lauded the team for collective efforts towards the memorable victory in Lusaka. “I believed that I would score though I was not the only one that qualified the team, but the team generally did well from the Chief Coach and staff to every member of the team.
The reigning African Women Champions (Super Falcons) started the game on a high tempo and domination of ball possession; and were quickly rewarded with an opening goal from Desire Oparanozie in the 3rd minute. Francisca Ordega increased the tally to 2-0 for Nigeria in the 18th minute with Asisat Oshoala netting the third in 38th minute before Oparanozie scored her brace and the fourth goal before first half time.
Assisat Oshoala fired Nigeria’s fifth goal in the 47th minute with Francisca Ordega increasing the tally to six, three minutes later before captain Evelyn Nwabuoku’s long-range strike in the 71st minute and Esther Sunday’s finish in 73rd minute completed the routing of the Malians by the Edwin Okon-led Falcons. “I am happy that my girls won and they did very well. We shall see where to go from here,” declared Coach Okon after the memorable victory.
By Oliesemeka Obeche