In a thrilling friendly game played in Turkey on Tuesday afternoon, Desire Oparanozie scored her first goal in four years for Nigeria to help the Super Falcons secure a commanding 3-0 win over New Zealand.
The game started with an open first half-hour, as both teams launched attacks on each other’s danger areas with long balls over the top. Despite several attempts, chances were scarce, with Nigeria’s best opportunity falling to striker Asisat Oshoala.
With poise and intelligence, the Barcelona star did everything right, but her low shot was deflected for a corner kick. The Falcons utilized the resulting corner, with Toni Payne delivering a pinpoint cross to the back post, where veteran skipper Onome Ebi rose highest to head it into the net.
It was the 39-year-old’s first goal for Nigeria in four years and her third in the green and white jersey.
Nigeria continued to display their prowess from set-pieces, as both goals in the previous win over Haiti came from such situations.
The goal bolstered Nigeria’s confidence, and they were the better team until the end of the first half.
After the break, the Super Falcons picked up from where they had left. Three minutes into the second half, fullback Michelle Alozie produced an outstanding cross for Jennifer Echegini to score her first-ever Falcons goal, doubling Nigeria’s lead.
Despite FIFA ranking New Zealand 25th and Nigeria 42nd, the Falcons continued to dominate and looked more threatening throughout the game.
Although Nigeria lost some of their attacking edge after Asisat Oshoala was replaced, substitute Desire Oparanozie scored a third goal in stoppage time, securing a third victory of the year for Nigeria.
Ultimately, the Super Falcons delivered an impressive performance to earn a morale-boosting win ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.