Super Falcons’ Desire Oparanozie (9) shows off her ‘Bolt pose’ after her goal took Nigeria into Tuesday’s showdown with the US
Like it happened in the quarter final match involving Nigeria and Mexico in which it took an extra-time effort from Desire Oparanozie to qualify the Falconets for the semifinals of the Women’s Under 20 World Cup, United States Nigerian-born, Chioma Ubogagu nicked in the winner for the Yankees against Democratic Republic of Korea in extra-time to set a semi-finals date with Nigeria.
The two teams had earlier exchanged top quality goals from Vanessa Di Bernardo and Kim Su Gyong during the second half of a hard-fought encounter.
The first half was largely a disjointed affair between the 2008 finalists and, despite the high energy levels, goalmouth action proved to be in short supply.
The first sight of goal did not come until the half-hour mark with Korea DPR’s Jon Myong Hwa firing a powerful free-kick from distance, which forced goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin to produce a full-length save.
USA came close to breaking the deadlock at the end of the first half after a back-post header from Morgan Brian, which was deflected narrowly wide of the post.
The opening minute of the second period suggested a less cagey affair as Crystal Dunn made a powerful run and shot from the left side of the penalty area, forcing a diving save from O Chang Ran. Indeed, it proved to be positive portents for the Stars and Stripes as midfielder Di Bernardo broke the deadlock soon after the break with a spectacular 30 metre strike.
Korea DPR looked dangerous with a succession of corners and drew level as Kim Un Hwa unlocked the defence with a superb short pass on the edge of a packed penalty area, and Kim Su Gyong produced an equally clinical finish.
The full time whistle allowed USA to regroup and Korea DPR struggled during extra time to find the rhythm they had enjoyed during the latter stages of the second half.
Midway through the first period came the game’s decisive moment as substitute Ubogagu peeled off her marker at the back post and headed home a perfectly flighted Dunn cross.
With this victory, Nigeria will take on the US in the first semi-finals on Tuesday, while host nation, Japan will clash with defending champions Germany in the second semi-final.