FIFA U-17 WOMEN WORLD CUP: FLAMINGOES GO FOR BROKE AGAINST COLOMBIA
Nigeria's women U-17 team, Flamingoes will this evening take on their Colombian counterpart in a crucial final round of group stage matches of the ongoing FIFA U-17 Women World Cup in Azerbaijan. Nigeria's girls opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Canada before demolishing hosts Azerbaijan 11-0 on Tuesday, with Chinwendu Ihezuo scoring five of the goals with three assists.
Unlike against Canada where the Nigerian ladies were wasteful, they were resilient against the host and got all their efforts on target to quickly send the host nation out of the tournament. From the start of the whistle to the end, the game was played almost exclusively in the hosts' half.
Nigeria and Canada are joint group leaders with four points each, but the former has better goals difference ahead of the latter who take on hosts, Azerbaijan in the other group match today. Colombia is third in the group's standing with three points and Azerbaijan has nothing to play for again except for pride. Focus will now be in the match between Nigeria and their South American counterparts that will determine who proceeds to the quarterfinals.
The Flamingoes have been ever-present at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and two years ago in Trinidad & Tobago the team became the first African country to escape the group phase. After winning their three group matches, they advanced to the quarter-final to clash with eventual champions Korea Republic.
In the game that was seen as one of the all-time greats in any FIFA competition, the Asians beat the Coach Peter Dedevbo's girls 6-5 in extra time. It was not the only time that Nigerian young ladies created waves at the competition. In 2008, in New Zealand, they were eliminated in the first round despite managing a 2-2 draw with Brazil and a defeat of Korea Republic.
Coach Peter Dedevbo, who was also in charge of the team two years ago, came into this tournament with the mission of going a step further and possibly win the cup. To this end, he cannot afford to see his squad slip-up against Colombia. To be on a safer side and avoid any mathematical permutation that usually comes with this kind of fixture, Nigeria needs outright victory against Columbia today.
Dedevbo, who doubles as Delta Queens coach is confident that his girls will go past Colombia to pick one of the quarterfinal tickets in group A.
Although five Nigerian girls have so far put their name on the score sheet, Chinwendu Ihezuo who scored Nigeria's equaliser against Canada and put five past Azerbaijan goalkeeper will be a star to watch out for today. The Pelican Stars of Calabar forward will want to increase her goal tally in a race for the Golden Boot award.
To qualify for the championship, the Flamingoes had little trouble in the two rounds of qualifiers, beating Kenya 2-0 and 3-0 and then following that up with 2-1 and 5-0 victories against Zambia.
The Azerbaijan 2012 FIFA U-17 Women World Cup is already catching all attraction it deserves with Germany, USA, Japan, Korea DPR, Brazil and Nigeria proving their pre-tournament favourites tags. The tournament is not short of burgeoning talents either, and fans are getting value for their money in the display of exciting plays and exquisite skills of the Nigerian forward, Chinwendu Ihezuo.
The The Nigerian side boasts of five players; Sarah Nnodim, Victoria Aidelomon, Oluchi Ofoegbu, Halimatu Ayinde and Ebere Okoye who were also involved two years ago in Trinidad and Tobago.