The Falconets will start another quest for Nigeria’s first U-20 Women’s World Cup title in Costa Rica on Thursday. The competition started on Wednesday with Germany losing to Colombia in the first match of the tournament.
Drawn in a tricky Group C with Canada, Korea Republic, and France, Nigeria will battle with the Europeans in their first game at the youth competition.
The age-grade event, which was moved from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is the 10th edition of the championship.
Having participated in all editions since its inception in 2002, Nigeria is not new to the competition. They emerged runners-up twice – 2010 and 2014 and have reached the quarter-finals on five occasions. A group stage ouster in 2002 and 2016 is the West Africans poorest showing at the 16-nation tournament.
But in the Central American nation, the Falconets will fancy their chances of going all the way to winning the title.
Nigeria’s flawless form en route to the competition further heightens hopes among fans that they will put up a good showing in Costa Rica. They won six of their seven matches (drawing only away to Cameroon) to book a final spot.
They began their campaign against the Central African Republic (CAR) in the second round of qualifiers and shipped 11 goals past them. Their next opponents were the Republic of Congo whom they dispatched 4-0 in the first leg (their opponents did not show up for the second leg in Nigeria).
After this, the youngsters defeated Cameroon 3-0 on aggregate in the fourth round of qualification before they mauled hapless Senegal 7-2 on aggregate in the last qualification game. In total, they scored 28 goals, conceding only twice. Flourish Sabastine contributed seven of them.
Despite the team’s ruthless display during qualification, Falconets’ coach Chris Danjuma says his girls won’t rest on their oars.
“We took a long route to get here, having to play four different teams in the qualifying series. I can tell you that we are prepared to make Nigeria and Africa proud,” he told the NFF.
“It is not about being here to make up the number; it is about being here to make an impact.”
Going to Costa Rica, Coach Danjuma called up 21 players, made up majorly of those who featured in the qualification series.
He will be relying on team captain Oluwatosin Demehin; the free-scoring front three of Mercy Idoko, Flourish Sabastine, and Joy Jerry to do damage against their opponents. Esther Onyenezide, Adoo Yina, and Deborah Abiodun are expected to pull the strings in the middle of the pack.