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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Nigeria, SA in opening AWC wins
Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Warri

Nigeria's Perpetua Nkwocha
Perpetua Nkwocha was on target for Nigeria

Nigeria's quest for an unprecedented fifth African Women's Championship title got off to a shaky start on Saturday.

The hosts struggled to beat debutants Equatorial Guinea 4-2 in Group A at the Warri Township stadium in the opening match of the tournament.

Super Falcons striker Cynthia Uwak, who is on the shortlist for Fifa Women's Player of the Year award, hit a brace in the first ten minutes to send the home fans into raptures.

But Equatorial Guinea rallied and got two quick goals with Nigeria-born Chinasa Okoro hitting the target in the 16th minute.

Seven minutes later the Guineans levelled when striker Clotilde Essiane scored a long-range effort.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Perpetua Nkwocha restored Nigeria's lead seven minutes after the break.

Equatorial Guinea's physical play late in the game resulted in two of their players being red-carded.

Essiane turned from hero to villain as she got her matching orders for a rough challenge.

Substitute Afang Monsuy Candida was also dismissed with only two minutes remaining.

The Super Falcons took advantage of their numerical strength and captain Kikelomo Ajayi rose above goalkeeper Haoua Yao to secure the victory.

The uninspiring display from the defending champions left their coach Effiom Ntiero disappointed.

"The girls lost concentration and we cannot afford to do that because any country that plays Nigeria is overly determined." Ntiero told BBC Sport.

"We have to put this game behind us and approach subsequent games with utmost determination."

The debutants were pleased with their maiden game of the tournament.

"We knew we were coming up against a tough side and we are not disappointed with the result," Okoro said.

Meanwhile, in the other Group A game Banyana Banyana of South Africa thrashed Algeria 4-0.

Veteran striker Veronica Phewa scored the tournament fastest ever goal in the first minute first and added a second ten minutes before the break.

Further goals from Nyanden Nompumelolo and Solomon Jo-Ann took the Banyana Banyana secured the victory.

South Africa now lead group A ahead of Nigeria with goal difference.



SEE ALSO
Nigeria eye fifth AWC title
01 Nov 06 |  African


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