Amarachi Okoronkwo’s long range shot 19 minutes into the game separated both sides in the first leg encounter at the Independence Stadium, Bakau.
The visitors escaped conceding an early goal as Gambia’s Penda Bah heads wide a good opportunity for the hosts off a brilliant cross.
Four minutes later Chinese based Asisat Oshola’s header found Francisca Ordega but the latter’s effort went inches wide from goalpost.
Bah again in the 60th minute attempted a goal via a long range effort but goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi made an easy catch to thwart the move.
Anam Imo nicely tapped in the ball following Oshoala’s cross which would have made for the second goal 10 minutes later, but centre referee ruled for offside.
The eight time champions proved to be a solid nut for the home team to crack as Thomas Dennerby ladies quietly snatched the needed three points.
The return leg is scheduled for the Agege Stadium Lagos on Monday with the winner of the fixture qualifying for the AWCON tournament in Ghana in November.