Nigeria made a bright start to their quest to qualify for TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2022 after a 2-0 victory over eternal rivals Ghana in Lagos on Wednesday.
Reigning African champions bounced back from September’s Aisha Buhari Cup loss to South Africa in a style thanks to a double from Uchenna Kanu in the first round, first leg match at Mobolaji Johnson Stadium in Onikan.
For Ghana, they were seeking to avoid a second-ever absence from the continental showpiece, after failing to qualify for the 2012 edition of the competition staged in Equatorial Guinea but stumbled.
The 18th competitive fixture involving two of the continent’s giants lived up to its billing although the hosts enjoyed the bulk of ball possession in the opening 15 minutes of the encounter.
The anticipated breakthrough came for the Super Falcons when Francisca Ordega’s set up Kanu to spilt the Black Queens defence and gave the lead to Randy Waldrum’s side in the 22nd minute.
The nine-time winners maintained their pouring attack on the visitors and were rewarded with the second through Kanu’s second of the match from a fine assist from Toni Payne four minutes later.
The Ghanaians threatened the hosts before the break through Grace Asantewaa and Princella Adubea but could not break the solid defence marshalled by Onome Ebi and Osinachi Ohale plus goalkeeping brilliance of Chiamaka Nnadozie.
With a first-leg advantage victory, Nigeria recorded their 11th win over their West African rivals in 18 meetings and will aim to consolidate on their home lead to ensure their passage to the next round.
On the part of Ghana, coach Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo’s ladies will hope to overturn the two-goal deficit in the return leg at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday, October 24.
The winner of the high-profile doubleheader after the Accra second leg showdown will set up a second-round date with either Niger or Cote d’Ivoire.