Nigeria’s U20 girls, the Falconets defeated Canada 3-1 on Thursday morning to finish top in Group C with nine points at the ongoing 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The victory also means the Falconets recorded a perfect start at the tournament and set a World Cup group stage record with three wins.
Falconets Head Coach, Chris Danjuma had said ahead of the encounter that his girls would seek to win even after booking the quarter-final ticket, to sustain their winning mentality following hard-fought victories over France and South Korea.
Falconets conceded their first goal of the tournament accidentally, following goalkeeper Omini Oyono’s poor management of a backpass from Jumoke Alani that granted Kala Novak a fortuitous goal in less than two minutes.
“It was great for us to come back from that setback, and also concede first in the tournament. We showed character and spirit, and that would be huge for us going forward in the competition,” Danjuma said after the match.
Falconets enterprising midfielder, Esther Onyenezide, whose curling shot earned all three points against South Korea that sent the Falconets into the last eight on Monday morning, scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute to pull the Falconets level. Defender Mia Pante had handled the ball from a Blessing Okpe shot in the box.
The Falconets looked composed in the middle with the return of Deborah Abiodun, who sat out the encounter with the Koreans, and Chiamaka Okwuchukwu also played an inspired game after starting for the first time in the tournament. Her firm header from a Blessing Okpe cross in the 15th minute was missed narrowly.
Onyenezide shot Nigeria ahead also from the spot in the 32nd minute, after Simi Awujo’s dangerous play against Mercy Idoko, as the latter went for a header from Rofiat Imuran’s inswinger, was penalized.
In the added time of the first half, Idoko came close to scoring her first goal of the tournament, but her touch from another Imuran inswinger kissed the upright.
In the second half, the Falconets added pace and brilliant use of space to their game, and it was no surprise when Imuran, again with a visionary cross, set up substitute Chioma Olise for Nigeria’s third goal.
The Falconets will battle the Netherlands in the quarter-final cracker in Alajuela from 1 am on Monday Nigeria time.