Finally, the much advertised Aisha Buhari Cup began in Lagos with the Super Falcons of Nigeria beating the Female Eagles of Mali 2-0 in a keenly contested tie. We take a look at talking points in the game
Randy Waldrum started Houston Dash forward, Michelle Alozie at right back and she had to face the rampaging Aisata Traore. In the first ten minutes, Alozie was the most busy player on the pitch as she struggled to keep Aisata at bay. There have been doubts about the ability of foreign born players to adapt to the physicality of the game in Africa and Alozie's ability to step up her game was tested by Aisata.
The Houston Dash forward got a yellow card and was fortunate not to get a red. Waldrum replaced her in the second half with Faith Ikidi who is a veteran and who has seen it all in African football. This change by Waldrum caused Mali coach, Saloum Mohamed Housein to move Aisata to the middle though she was also taken care of by Onome Ebi
The Super Falcons midfield found it difficult to string passes in the first half due to Mali's man marking game. The Malians were also physical and always won the ball from Ngozi Okobi who had to switch roles with Rita Chikwelu. The team missed Sevilla midfielder, Toni Payne.
Onome Ebi still showed that age is just a number. The veteran defender was in fine form and did well in defense. For Oshoala, the first half was difficult for her, as well as the forwards, Oparanozie and Ordega
Randy Waldrum's second half changes worked. Amarachi Okoronkwo and Regina Otu replaced Ngozi Okobi and Rita Chikwelu and this brought a breath of fresh air to the midfield and the introduction of Uchenna Kanu pegged the Malians back
The biggest highlight of the evening was Monday Gift. The FC Robo striker replaced CSKA Moscow's Francisca Ordega and she made instant impact. She rose highest in the box to nod home Asisat Oshoala's cross in the 83rd minute and got her brace with a beautiful chip over the lively Mali goalkeeper
Waldrum has shown flexibility in team selection and he is not afraid to change the regular faces when he is in search of a result.
Credit also must be given to the Malians who brought their first class game to the match and gave the Super Falcons a strong competition
Picture Credit: Aisha Buhari Cup Media
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