UNDER-20 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Nigeria’s Under-20 girls, Falconets, battled hard but once more, were unable to break the German jinx as they lost 0-1 to the 2010 and 2014 champions in the opening game of Group D of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Saint Malo, France yesterday.
Stefanie Sanders was gifted acres of space in the six-yard area to slam into the net from a corner kick even after inspired goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie had made two consecutive saves.
The Falconets, runners-up in 2010 and 2014 and semi finalists in 2012, had their own opportunities to get on the scorers-sheet but Anam Imo and Peace Efih were somewhat unlucky.
The victory shot the Germans to the top of the Group D table ahead of the clash between Haiti and China.
The Falconets turned out in Nigeria’s new NIKE outfits and fought hard and confidently on the turf of Stade de Marville.
Germany pushed hard and relentlessly in the opening half, but could find no breakthrough as a brilliant Nnadozie, with defenders Glory Ogbonna, Oluwakemi Famuditi and Sunday Opeyemi, kept things tight at the rear.
Nigeria should have levelled three minutes after the Germans shot ahead, but Peace Efih’s swerving shot rocked the upright with the goalkeeper stranded.
Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Yusuf Ahmed Fresh, said after the match in Saint Malo that Falconets fought very hard and were just unlucky.
“The girls fought very hard and deserved at least a point from this match, but that is gone now and we have to look forward to Thursday. I believe the coaches have the ability to turn things around and ensure victory in the two remaining group phase matches,” he noted.
Next up for the Falconets is an encounter with their Haitian counterparts, at the same venue on Thursday, before another potentially-explosive encounter with China in Dinan/Léhon on Monday next week.
Another African team at the competition, Ghana lost her opening game 4-1 to hosts France in Group A. Emelyne Laurent began the hosts’ scoring spree after just five minutes with Helene Fercocq slotting home to make it 2-0.