Rasheedat Ajibade netted the only goal as Nigeria got their U20 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign on track with a 1-0 victory over Haiti in Saint Malo on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Kerly Théus was called to duty as early as one minute when she dived at full stretch to make a save from Rasheedat Ajibade’s cross.
Haiti played with confidence and passed the ball around as they took the game to the two-time finalists.
The two teams reduced the tempo as they resorted to the tactical route for about eight minutes.
Ajibade, Monday Gift and Anam Imo cut frustrated faces as they were starved of the ball by the physical Haitians.
The energetic Sherly Jeudy bombarded her way to the box, but goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie did well to grab the ball after mistiming it.
Nigeria were awarded a penalty kick when Imo was fouled in the box by Dougenie Joseph.
Skipper Ajibade kept her cool to convert the spot kick, sending Théus the wrong way in the 36 minute.
Nérilia Mondésir saw her effort come off the cross bar when Peace Efih’s clearance arrived at the path of the forward. A deadly pass from Roseline Eloissaint caused a moment of scare in the Falconets’ defence line.
Haiti were unruffled in their approach. They came out in numbers. Melchie Dumonay whipped a brilliant free kick which was well taken by Nnadozie.
Ajibade should have made it 0-2 to the African team but she flashed her shot wide of the post after a mistake by Théus.
The busy Jeudy was menacing at the final third at resumption. Her big frame gave the Falconets defenders something to worry.
Falconets weren’t sharp when the game resumed in the second stanza. They were second best in the opening 15 minutes and that made the Haitians attack their territory.
A cross from substitute Mikerline Saint-Félix failed to trouble Nnadozie who was at the right place to pick the ball.
Saint-Félix fired an ambitious shot which almost embarrassed the vigilant Nnadozie.
Striker Imo scampered away from her marker and found Christy Ucheibe with a cross. The midfielder’s goal bound header was well dealt with by Dougenie Joseph.
The Falconets had a moment of scare when Melchie Dumonay skillfully nutmegged Mary Ologbosere and curled a low grounder which beat Nnadozie but didn’t land at the back of the net.
It was the Haitians against Nnadozie as she dived at full stretch to foil Dumonay whose brilliantly taken free kick was heading to the roof of the net in the 83rd minute.
Substitute Aishat Bello whipped a brilliant long range effort which was stopped by Théus.
Falconets were grateful to their keeper Nnadozie who made three great saves in the final embers of the match.
Nigeria Starters: Nnadozie Chiamaka, Ologbosere Mary, Sunday Opeyemi, Joy Duru, Okeke Chidinma, Efih Peace (Aishat Bello 87′) , Christy Ucheibe, Amoo Bashirat, Ajibade Busayo Rasheedat (C), Imo Anam (Famiditi Oluwakemi 90′), Monday Gift (Taibat Odueke 74′)
Subs Not Used: Okeke Onyinyechukwu, Akarekor Rita, Saiki Mary, Adebisi Saheed, Igbaomalu Grace, Glory Ogbonna, Ezekiel Blessing