Women’s World Cup: Nigeria, Cameroon Squeeze into Last 16

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Cameroon players celebrating the 2-1 victory over New Zealand and the qualification to the last 16 of the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France PHOTO: AP

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Nigeria’s Super Falcons squeezed into the Last 16 stage of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in France last night courtesy a gutsy defensive play by Thailand against Chile. Nigeria qualified as the fourth best third placed team of the group stage.

It is the first time Falcons will be reaching this stage of the competition since they first did in 1999 at the edition hosted by USA.

Needing a three-goal win to advance, Chile were 2-0 up when they were awarded a penalty after keeper Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing fouled Maria Jose Urrutia.

However, Francisca Lara stepped up and struck her effort against the bar in the dying minutes of the added seven minutes. Thailand held on till the final whistle for Nigeria to progress to the knock out stage to play Germany on Saturday.

Interestingly, Nigeria’s hope of progress was dealt a blow in the first game of the evening as Ajara Nchout scored two brilliant goals, including an injury-time winner, as Cameroon dramatically beat New Zealand 2-1 to reach the last 16 as one of the best third-placed team.

They tied on same three points and minus two goals with Nigeria but were placed above Falcons based on superior fair play record of the group phase.

Nchout turned inside Ria Percival in the 95th minute and superbly curled in the winner to put Cameroon through.

They were heading out after Aurelle Awona sliced a volley into her own net with 10 minutes remaining for 1-1.

Nchout had put her side ahead in the second half with a lovely, dinked goal.

The Netherlands finished top of Group E with a 100% record after a 2-1 victory over Canada, who finish in second place while USA that defeated Sweden by the same 2-0 margin topped Group F on maximum nine points.

Both sides were already assured of their places in the last 16, but the USA added to their 13-0 and 3-0 wins over Thailand and Chile with another strong performance in Le Havre.

Unmarked midfielder Lindsey Horan poked in the opener from an early corner, before Tobin Heath’s strike deflected in off Chelsea defender Jonna Andersson as the USA added a controversial second after the break.

Jill Ellis’ side face Spain in the next round while Sweden meet Canada, with both of those matches to be played on Monday.

ROUND OF 16 FIXTURES

Germany Vs Nigeria

Norway Vs Australia

England Vs Cameroon

France Vs Brazil

Spain Vs USA

Sweden Vs Canada

Italy Vs China

Netherlands Vs Japan