Falcons under pressure after slim Banyana win – Avre

Former Super Falcons forward, Patience Avre, has said that Nigeria will be under pressure for the second leg of their Olympic qualifiers against South Africa following their narrow home win, Saturday PUNCH reports.

The Super Falcons defeated South Africa 1-0 in the first leg of the Paris 2024 Olympics final qualification round which was played at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Friday.

Avre who played at three World Cups and was among the Falcons team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia has said that the result is not good enough to take to the away leg in South Africa.

“That’s not good enough, it is tight but at least they tried by beating South Africa who are our rivals,” she told sportmen.

“It’s still going to be very tough because now, they will be home team so definitely, there will be a lot of pressure there. The only thing we can do now is to do our best defensively and also in attacking by trying to score an early goal. If we don’t score early, it will make things hard for us because we all know how South African can be.”

Coach Randy Waldrum made a host of changes to the side that defeated Cameroon in February as Christy Ucheibe replaced Oluwatosin Demehin at center back, Chidinma Okeke came on in for the unavailable Ashleigh Plumptre at left back, while Uchenna Kanu and Chinwendu Ihezuo were handed a start in attack.

Nigeria started the game brilliantly with Ihezuo recording the first shot of the game in the 5th minute but her effort drifted wide. Three minutes later, Uchenna Kanu also had a go at goal but Kaylin Swart easily dealt with her shot.

In the 19th minute, Okeke delivered a cross into the penalty area but Ihezuo couldn’t get her attempt on target.

Four minutes before the end of the first half, Ihezuo was brought down in the penalty area and Rasheedat Ajibade stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.

The Atlético de Madrid forward strike would mean Nigeria would take a one-goal lead into the break.

The Super Falcons started the second half on a front foot with Kanu getting set up by Ajibade but the latter’s effort drifted wide.

Chiamaka Nnadozie was forced to make her first notable contribution of the game in the 56th minute, denying Jermaine Seopesenwe from restoring parity for the visitors.

The Paris FC shot stopper had to be at her best yet again on the hour mark to deny the South Africans from breaching her goal.

In a bid to add more potency to the attack, Waldrum brought off Ihezuo and replaced her with Esther Okoronkwo in the 67th minute and took off Kanu for former Liverpool forward Rinsola Babajide.

It was a quiet end to the game as both sides struggle to create clear cut opportunities.

The result means the record African champions head into the second leg with a one-goal cushion and just have to avoid a defeat to book their place in the tournament.


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