Nigeria’s Falconets will depart from their final training camp in Tirol, Austria on Thursday for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, with high level of confidence after scoring seven goals and conceding none in two friendly games.
The 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup silver medallists hammered Austrian Women League top flight team, FC Wacker Innsbruck 4-0 in their final pre-tournament friendly in Tirol on Saturday, with a brace from top scorer Rasheedat Ajibade and one each from Adebisi Saheed and Chinyere Igboamalu.
A few days earlier, the Nigerian girls had spanked another Austrian top flight side, FC Bergheim 3-0.Saturday’s match in Tirol was also watched by Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung. Ajibade, who plays for FC Robo Queens of Lagos and also featured at the last tournament in Papua New Guinea, top –scored for Nigeria in the African qualifying campaign and is heavily touted to dazzle the world in France next month.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala was the top scorer and best player at the 2014 finals in Canada, where the Falconets finished as runners-up behind Germany.The U20 girls remain Nigeria’s most successful women’s team at global level, winning silver at the FIFA World Cup twice (Germany 2010 and Canada 2014) and bronze once (Japan 2012), and reaching the quarterfinals in Thailand (2004), Russia (2006) and Chile (2008).
The four official host cities for the Ninth FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup are located in the Brittany region: Concarneau, Dinan/Léhon, Saint-Malo and Vannes. The Stade de la Rabine in Vannes will host the opening match on August 5, as well as the final match of the competition on August 24.
Nigeria will battle Haiti, China and Germany in Group D of the 16–nation finals, while Africa’s other flagbearer, Ghana must negotiate a tough Group A against host France, New Zealand and The Netherlands.Group B has North Korea, England, Mexico and Brazil while USA, Japan, Paraguay and Spain fight things out in Group D.
The Falconets’ opening match is against perennial foes, Germany (who beat Nigeria in the 2010 and 2014 Final matches) at the Stade de Marville in Saint-Malo on Monday, August 6, before clashes with Haiti at the same venue on August 9 and against China in Dinan/Léhon’s Stade de Clos Gastel on August 13.To qualify for the finals, the Falconets dismissed Tanzania’s U20 girls 9-0 aggregate, brushed aside Morocco 6-2 on aggregate and whiplashed their South African counterparts 8-0 over two legs in January this year.
The Nigerian team has three goalkeepers: Onyinyechukwu Okeke, Rita Akarekor and Chiamaka Nnadozie; six defenders, Glory Ogbonna, Opeyemi Sunday, Mary Ologbosere, Joy Duru, Blessing Ezekiel and Oluwakemi Famuditi, as well as seven midfielders, including Christy Ucheibe, Bashirat Amoo, Peace Efih, Adebisi Saheed, Mary Saiki, Taibat Odueke and Grace Igboamalu.The attackers are Rasheedat Ajibade, Anam Imo, Chidinma Okeke, Aishat Bello and Gift Monday.