Nigeria’s national Under-20 women national team, the Falconets will face familiar foes Spain at the quarter-final stage of the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women’s Championship in France with expectations at a modest level.
The Nigerians might have reached the quarter-final stage, an advancement on their last participation in Papua New Guinea but they made a hard work of it, requiring a last gasp own goal to earn a largely uncharitable 1-1 draw against China on Monday afternoon.
Nigeria lost 1-0 against Germany in their opening group game, squeezed a win over Haiti by the same margin in their second group game before Monday’s draw against China earned them a Thursday date with Spain, a team they defeated in their last group game two years ago.
The laborious manner at which the Christopher Musa Danjuma-led Falconets have qualified for the next round of the tournament has not impressed many Nigerians, including our team of experts at www.aclsports.com
With the team now at the quarter-final stage, it is expected that many more Nigerians will develop more interest in their participation, but before you put those money on them or dream of another run to the final as they’ve always done every four years (in 2010 and 2014), you may need to read from our experts.
Queen John is our Chief Sports Reporter and she did not mince words.
“The Falconets have been poorly coached and a lucky draw was all they needed which they eventually got against the Chinese to avoid consecutive elimination at the group stage.
“The Spaniards will be tougher for the Falconets on Thursday and I believe they will need more than the brilliance of Chiamaka Nnodozie in goal to scale that hurdle,” said Miss John.
Our Sports Reporter Sola Oyeniyi also echoes the Chief Sports Reporter’s views of Nigeria requiring more than just a brilliant goalkeeper to progress.
“The Falconets are not a team. What we have are brilliant players who have been brought together but have found it difficult to gel,” began Oyeniyi.
“There is no cohesion in the team especially in the attack and to go past Spain, we will need to score because Chiamaka (Nnadozie) can only try.
“The fact that our only goals have come from a penalty and an own goal sums it all up for me and we won’t escape the wrath of the Spaniards that I’m sure of,” she submitted.
What seems to be a consensus is that the Nigerians have not impressed. Our Football Reporter Izuchukwu Akawor reiterates this but believes that star names Rasheedat Ajibade and goalkeeper Nnadozie are capable of influencing the result of the game.
“The Falconets have not really been impressive so far, they laboured to a win against Haiti but I was surprised they were able to secure the point needed against China.
“Spain will be a difficult hurdle for them, but in Rasheedat Ajibade and the goalkeeper, Nigeria have two players who will be decisive with whatever happens in the quarterfinal,” said Akawor.
Our Chief Football Writer, Fisayo Dairo in his own submission however believes that in as much as the Nigerians have been poor, they may have enough in their arsenal to deal with Spain.
“There is no need to flog a dead horse. The Falconets have not been what the Doctors prescribed, but I think they were decent in some parts of their draw with China. You can also not underestimate the confidence that such last gasp result gives a team,” said Dairo.
“I’ve seen the Spaniards and I think they are not exceptional. They have a good footballing template which is admirable but apart from their captain, Patricia who I love so much, I think Nigeria’s disorganisation is capable of disorganising them, using the words of Javier Mascherano.
“I wouldn’t be raising my hopes unnecessarily though because for a team that poor, getting to the quarter-finals alone is an over achievement,” he stated.
Thursday’s game will kick-off at 3:00pm Nigerian time at the Stade Guy-Piriou in Concameau, France.
What are your thoughts and expectations concerning Thursday’s game? Let us know in the comments section.