China-based striker, Asisat Oshoala is now the nearest Nigerian player in the race against South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana for the top goals scorer’s award at this year’s Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana.
Although the three-time African Female Footballer of The Year was blunt in her first two matches for the Super Falcons at AWCON 2018, Oshoala returned to her fiery form on Saturday with a treble, which now puts her only one goal behind Kgatlana.
Oshoala was the top scorer at AWCON 2016 in Cameroon, which she ended with six goals, and she will now aim to outdo Kgatlana, in order to be crowned the latest back-to-back winner of the competition’s golden boot prize.
Nigeria’s Perpetua Nkwocha is the only player that has been able to retain the Golden Boot award in the competition’s history, as she went home with the gong in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
This year, 43 goals have already been scored by 31 players, with Nigeria having six different scorers, and Oshoala got into the top scorer’s race ahead of her teammates, following her hat-trick on Saturday.
In doing so, she pulled level with Zambia’s Racheal Kundananji on three goals, behind Kgatlana, who got the lone goal against Nigeria, two against Equatorial Guinea and one against Zambia.
Nigeria has two of five players on two goals each, in Francisca Ordega and Desire Oparanozie, alongside Ajara Nchout of Cameroon, Bassira Touré of Mali and Fatoumata Diarra of Mali.
The Falcons’ goals rush on Saturday was opened by Francesca Ordega ten minutes into the game with a sweet finish as she side footed the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Emilia.
Soon after, Oshoala finished off a great cross from Desire Oparanozie in the 13th minute, then got her brace from the near post in the 30th minute moments after missing from close range for Nigeria’s third goal.
Oshoala soon after grabbed her hat trick from a close range header after the ball rebounded off the crossbar in the 34th minute. Oparanozie was the architect of the goal.
The rout continued in the second half as Oparanozie put her name in the scorers’ chart in the 48th minute as she finished off an intricate passing move rounded off by Francesca Ordega.
Falcons’ captain Rita Chikwelu made it 6-0 with 27 minutes to go as substitute Amarachi Okoronkwo lobbed the ball inside the Guineans box.
Chikwelu was faster than the opposing keeper, as she romped in a foot to get the ball out of the shot-stopper’s intending grip and slotted the ball into the net, despite calls by the Equatorial Guinea squad for a free-kick, over arguments of a foul on their skipper.
In the 79th minute, Oshoala squandered another glorious chance side netting after a good pass to her in the box, but the Falcons had done enough to book a ticket against Group A winners and last edition’s hosts, Cameroon.
Tuesday’s semi-final in Accra will have not just a place in the final to fight for but a ticket to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France also up for grabs, as the winner is assured of automatic qualification, while the loser will have to battle it out for a third slot from the third place match.