Nigeria’s women Under-20 national team thrashed Tanzania 3-0 as they begin their quest for a ninth appearance at next year’s FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France.
Christopher Danjuma‘s ladies met a resilient side from Eastern Africa but their experience shone through in the end as they take a healthy advantage to Dar es Salaam in a fortnight.
Nigeria’s goals were scored by two of the five players in Nigeria’s starting lineup that played at last year’s Under-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
Versatile defender Lilian Tule gave Nigeria the lead on 22 minutes, the Bayelsa Queens star curling home a free kick from the edge of the penalty box. Nigeria were denied chances to increase the lead before half time by Tanzania goalkeeper Gelua Gelua.
Rasheed Ajibade, a veteran of FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup tournaments then took matters into her hands in the second half. The FC Robo captain scored twice within the space of six minutes, early in the second half to put the Falconets in firm control of the tie.
“There is a natural tendency that when it is your first match in any competition, players are bound to come with this cautious approach that nobody wants to make mistakes,” Nigerian coach Danjuma said at the post match press conference.
“But after the rest at half time, I think we calmed down on the ball and corrected the few mistakes we made in the first half,” he added.
If Nigeria scale through the Tanzanian hurdle, they will face the winner of the tie between Morocco and Senegal in the second round of the qualifiers. The Moroccans won the first leg 2-0 on Saturday in Morocco.
Nigeria’s neighbours Cameroon enjoyed the biggest win of the qualifying series so far when they thrashed Guinea 9-0 in Conakry while Ghana’s Black Maidens also enjoyed a sumptuous 5-0 win at Algeria.
Two countries will qualify to represent Africa at the end of the qualifying schedule with Nigeria the only side from the continent to have qualified for each of the World Under 20 tournaments since inception in 2002.