Nigeria’s Super Falcons battled to a 1-1 draw with Ethiopia’s Lucy in the first leg of their Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualifier.
Here are Soccernet.ng‘s four takeaways from the encounter:
Nigeria’s struggle in the absence of head coach Randy Waldrum
Waldrum missed the game due to personal commitments in the United States. The American gaffer led Nigeria to the knockout rounds of the World Cup, with the team playing some fantastic football.
In his absence, the Falcons looked flat and ordinary from defence to attack and needed a moment of brilliance from Rasheedat Ajibade to rescue a draw.
The Super Falcons are goals-shy
Nigeria have scored only four goals in their last five matches now, with three of them coming in a single game against Australia at the World Cup.
The Falcons failed to score against Canada, Ireland, and England at the Mundial and managed just one against Ethiopia.
Oshoala missed a couple of chances at the World Cup and against Ethiopia. Ify Onumonu is not prolific, while Uchenna Kanu has seemingly forgotten her scoring boots in Mexico.
The Super Falcons need a new, consistent goalscorer. Gift Monday looks like she has it in her, but she may need more time. Opeyemi Ajakaye and Esther Onyenezide are young goal-scorers whose time will surely come.
For the here and now, hopefully, Babajide Rinsola will bring goals aplenty with her to the Falcons from Spain.
Rasheedat Ajibade is Nigeria’s next big thing
In Addis Ababa, Ajibade stepped up when others around her looked lost in the absence of coach Waldrum.
The Atletico Madrid forward scored the equaliser to help the Falcons avoid an embarrassing defeat against the Ethiopians.
While Oshoala has been Nigeria’s biggest star over the past decade, it is clear that Ajibade will be the team’s main girl over the coming few years.
Falcons need to win in Abeokuta
The second leg of this qualifier between Nigeria and Ethiopia will be played at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, on Sunday, October 31st.
The Super Falcons must win that match to advance to the next round of the Olympic Games qualifiers.
Coach Waldrum is expected to rejoin the team ahead of that encounter, and that could be the advantage the Falcons need to soar.