By Uwem Uko
Nigeria senior women’s team wrapped up their visit to Canada with a 2-2 draw against their Canadian counterparts at the Starlight Stadium in Langford on Tuesday morning.
Ifeoma Onumonu and Rasheedat Ajibade netted for the Super Falcons, while Christiane Sinclair and Shelina Zadorsky got the goals for Canada, who were denied by the woodwork on three occasions.
After losing the first leg 2-0 at BC Place Stadium on Friday, Randy Waldrum’s side put in an improved performance against the north Americans in Langford with a better defensive display, transitional and attacking play.
They twice took the lead and it looked they were going to win the game before Zadorsky struck late on to ensure the contest ended all square.
Gotham FC forward Onomonu fired Nigeria in front with a cheeky back-heel strike in the fifth minute.
Onomonu, who scored twice against Cote d’Ivoire in the final round of Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers last month, capitalized on a loose ball after Toni Payne’s free-kick was poorly cleared.
After Onomonu’s opener, the hosts took control of the game and almost drew themselves level 14 minutes later through Adriana Leon, who sent a delightful free-kick towards goal. The ball looked destined for the top corner, only for goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie to produce a stunning finger-tip save to deny the West Ham forward.
Midway through the first period, Canada went close again — with Manchester City striker Janine Beckie rattling the upright with her left-footed effort. Lyon defender Kadeisha Buchanan hit the rebound but Ashley Plumptre kept it out with a nice block, before Ajibade cleared the danger.
Ten minutes before the break, Nnadozie was called into action again — this time the Paris FC first choice dived low to deny Beckie.
Early into the second period, Uchenna Kanu forced a brilliant save from substitute goalkeeper Sabrina Angelo, who dived low to make a fingertip save.
But three minutes later, the Canadian pressure paid off, with substitute Christine Sinclair scoring with a delightful chip after she had dispossessed captain Onome Ebi, following a sloppy pass from Nnadozie.
Super Falcons regained their lead four minutes later through Rasheedat Ajibade, whose inswinging cross beat substitute Canadian keeper, Sabrina D’Angelo and sailed into the net.
Five minutes after the hour mark, Sinclair played a one-two with Leon, with her final delivery rattling the crossbar and Toni Payne clearing the rebound.
Barely a minute later, Nigeria suffered another scare, when Beckie rose to head a cross at the far post but, once again, the woodwork came to their rescue.
And as the game approached the final three minutes, it looked like Nigeria were going to register their first win over the north American side since a 1-0 victory at the 2011 World Cup in Germany, but Zadorsky had other ideas. The centre-back outjumped Onumonu and Plumptre to head home Beckie’s cross.
Super Falcons XI:
Chiamaka Nnadozie – Michelle Alozie (Nicole Payne 84′), Christy Ucheibe, Onome Ebi, Ashley Plumptre, Toni Payne – Rasheedat Ajibade Rita Chikwelu (Peace Efih 75′), Uchenna Kanu – Francisca Ordega, Ifeoma Onumonu (Glory Ogbonna 90’+3)
Unused Substitutes: Tochukwu Oluehi, Yewande Balogun, Amanda Uju, Onyi Echegini
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