Deneisha Blackwood’s goal was the difference as Jamaica condemned Nigeria’s Super Falcons to defeat in the opening WNT Summer Series Invitational at the BBVA Stadium in Houston on Thursday night.
Blackwood scored what proved to be the winner six minutes after the restart to get the Reggae Girlz off to an impressive start in the four-nation tournament.
It was redemption for the Jamaican forward after her 26th-minute spot-kick, awarded after Glory Ogbonna fouled inside the box, was saved by Falcons goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi.
The defeat was a first for the Super Falcons’ American head coach Randy Waldrum and a first for the team since a 3-0 defeat to Germany in 2019.
Nigeria fielded a much-changed lineup with injuries and visa problems preventing regulars including Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene, Chiamaka Nnadozie, Osinachi Ohale, Halimatu Ayinde, Onome Ebi, Asisat Oshoala, Uchenna Kanu from making the squad.
In their absence, Waldrum handed debuts to Oluwatosin Dimehin, Onyinyechi Zogg, Roosa Ariyo, Esther Ogbonna, Nicole Payne, Ifeoma Onumonu and Vivian Ikechukwu.
The unfamiliarity between the players perhaps accounted for their lack of chemistry on the field as Nigeria struggled to piece passes together and generally lacked fluency and coordination in a dire first half.
They improved marginally after the break and came close to taking the lead but Toni Payne’s effort was ruled out for offside and Michelle Alozie saw her powerful shot cannon off the crossbar with the team a goal down.
Despite the defeat, there was a bit of history for Nigeria as the Payne sisters Nicole and Toni became only the second set of sisters to represent the Super Falcons after Eberechi and Ugochi Opara.
Nigeria’s next match is against Portugal at the same venue on Sunday, 14 June while Jamaica next take on hosts and World Champions the USA.