U-20 Women’s World Cup: France coach wary of Nigeria’s quality


Ebenezer Bajela

Ahead of Thursday’s Group C U-20 Women’s World Cup clash, France head coach Sonia Haziraj is wary of the quality of Nigeria’s U-20 women’s team, the Falconets.

Both teams faceoff at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose as they hope to begin their campaign on a bright note.

The French team, who are making their eighth appearance at the global football showpiece, will hope to build on their 2016 outing, when they finished as runners-up, while the Falconets are hoping to claim their maiden world title.

“I’m extremely wary of Nigeria. I have massive respect for the African game and Nigeria have a number of players who possess real quality,” Haziraj told FIFA’s website.

“The Nigerians always get out of their group at the youth tournaments. I’ve watched them and they’re a well-drilled, hard-working side.

“They have great pace and are very athletic, and we’ll have to be ready to match them in that respect.”

The former midfielder also talked about Canada and South Korea, their other opponents in the group.

“As for Canada, they’re a solid side. When I look at the teams we faced in the Sud Ladies Cup, I can see parallels with the sides we’ll come up against in Costa Rica,” she added.

“USA, with their pace and direct attacking play, are similar to Nigeria, whilst the Netherlands are very much like the Canadians in that they’re really disciplined, athletic and afford you very little in the way of space.

“When it comes to the South Koreans, we haven’t got too much of an insight. What we do know is that, just like all Asian teams, they’re a very tough side, a strong unit and cover a lot of ground.”

Haziraj has her sights on France emerging as world champions after the final on August 28.

“We’ve got some top players and so our target is clearly to go all the way and win the competition.

“That’s not to sound arrogant, it’s just that we’ve got players with real quality who’re capable of operating in completely different systems from one game to the next. That element of unpredictability is one of our strengths.”