The Super Falcons of Nigeria have jumped into the driving seat of their Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier after their 2-0 victory over Ivory Coast.
Goals in both halves from Ifeoma Onumonu ensured that Nigeria would take a two-goal lead into the second leg in Ivory Coast.
Nigeria welcomed their West-African neighbours Ivory Coast to the Moshood Abiola Stadium in the first leg of the final round of qualifiers for the 2022 AWCON.
The eleven-time African Champions were favourites going into the tie, but memories of how the Lady Elephants stopped Nigeria from qualifying for the 2020 Olympics are still fresh.
The Super Falcons started the game on top as expected. They dictated the play from the blast of the whistle, trying to carve out the Ivory Coast backline.
Nigeria got their noses in front in the 21st minute through Ifeoma Onumonu as she received a pass from Esther Okoronkwo to fire home from close range.
After the goal, the Lady Elephants came out to attack but saves from goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie kept the eleven-time Champions in the game.
The Super Falcon held their own defensively to see out their lead till halftime.
Nigeria started the second half with high intensity, and just ten minutes after the break, they got rewarded, and it was Onumonu again. She placed a neat lob of a finish behind the Ivorian keeper to grab a brace for herself.
Captain Asisat Oshoala was not listed in the matchday squad due to personal issues, but Onome Ebi stepped up and marshalled her teammates properly. She, alongside debutant Ashleigh Plumptre, kept it tight at the back.
The Lady Elephants poured a late flurry of attacks at the Super Falcons, but Randy Waldrum’s women held out for a 2-0 victory in Abuja.
The Super Falcons travel to Abidjan for the second leg on Wednesday and only need to avoid a three-goal margin defeat to claim the ticket for the Championship in Morocco.