Nigeria’s and Ethiopia’s senior women’s team shared points in the battle of Addis Ababa on Wednesday afternoon with the game ending 1-1 to set up a tantalising return leg in Abuja on Tuesday next week.
Super Falcon’s captain Rasheedat Ajibade’s fierce shot from the edge of the box, six minutes after the restart, restored parity at the Abebe Bikila Stadium, after the Ethiopian women had taken a surprise lead in the 6th minute of play as Birkie Amare made hay from a corner kick.
Asisat Oshoala played the main striker, while Uchenna Kanu and Gift Monday operated from the wings, and Michelle Alozie switched to left back to allow Nicole Payne take right back duty. Oluwatosin Demehin and Akudo Ogbonna took control at the centre of the defence, and with Christy Ucheibe and Halimatu Ayinde unavailable, Peace Efih joined Toni Payne and Ajibade to string things together in the middle.
Both teams found it hard to create many opportunities in a tight first period, though Asisat Oshoala should have done better with an opportunity from Payne’s cross halfway into the period. After Ajibade restored parity, the Falcons took full control, and substitute Ifeoma Onumonu should have put Nigeria in the lead, but was foiled in the 64th minute.
The match was a debut for Ajakaye Opeyemi who earned her first senior cap for the Falcons.
Both teams will clash again in the return leg at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, with the winner on aggregate to proceed to the third round, where the winner of the Cameroon/Uganda fixture awaits.