Nigeria’s Rasheedat Ajibade (left) battles with a Spanish player during their FIFA U-20 Women World Cup match in Papua New Guinea…yesterday. PHOTO: NFF
They left it too late and at the end, even their 2-1 victory over European super power, Spain, could not take the Falconets to the quarterfinals of the on-going FIFA Women U-20 World Cup holding in Papua New Guinea.
The Nigerian girls have themselves to blame as their opening day 6-0 loss to Japan proved too big an albatross on their desire for a better fortune in the competition.
Yesterday’s encounter with Spain was certainly their best performance of the tournament, but it happened that they left it too late, as their inferior goals aggregate hampered their quest to move beyond the group stage of the 8th FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals.
They needed to win and for Japan not to win in the other Group B match, but the Asians steamrolled their Canadian opponents 5-0, just across the city in Port Moresby, meaning the Nigerian girls would be heading home instead of heading into the quarter finals after wins over Canada and Spain.
Spain, who walloped Canada 5-0 before defeating Japan 1-0, were ahead after only six minutes when Alba Redondo slotted past goalkeeper Onyinye Okeke as the European vice champions swept into Nigeria’s vital area.
However, Nigeria drew level six minutes later, Ihuoma Onyebuchi cashing in on an opportunity in a goalmouth scramble from a corner kick.
In the second half, substitute Yetunde Adeboyejo should have scored when put through on goal by the intelligent Rasheedat Ajibade, but she failed to measure her angle well.
Stand–in captain Chiwendu Ihezuo raced onto another intelligent Ajibade pass and ghosted past two defenders to score the winner in the 72nd minute.
Substitute Aminat Yakubu should have scored a third goal for Nigeria, but she failed with only the goalkeeper to beat, as the Nigerians made life difficult for the Spaniards with long balls.
Six minutes to the end, Nigerian defender, Glory Ogbonna, was sent off after a second bookable offence.
Although they finished with six points, same as Japan, Nigeria had a deficit of three goals while the Japanese had 10 goals to their advantage.
In the end, the Falconets would look back at their opening match against the Japanese and wish they had played the Asians the way they played the Canadians and the Spaniards.
Nigerian forward, Ihezuo, was selected as Live Your Goals Player of the Match.