U-20 World Cup: Falconets Target Record Semi-final Ticket Against Netherlands
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By Ebube Dike
Nigeria’s female U-20 football team, the Falconets are targeting semi-final ticket as they battle the Netherlands in the quarter-final clash of the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica on Sunday.
The imperious Netherland ladies are among the high scoring side in the tournament after they trashed Ghana ladies 4-1 in their last group match to set up a last 8 clash with Nigeria.
The Dutch, who emerged from a tough Group D that included United States of America and Japan, eliminating the Americans in the process, would not be a walk in the park for Chris Danjunma’s girls, but the two-time runners-up say they are aware of this fact.
“The Dutch are a super-strong squad to have survived that group where the Americans were sent packing. In any event, any team in the quarter-finals must be a super-strong squad. We will not under-rate them, just as we did not under-rate any of France, Korea Republic and Canada.
“As I said at the beginning of the tournament, we are taking it one match at a time. Our overall plan for each of the games in the group phase worked well. And I believe that our overall plan for the match against The Netherlands will work as well,” Chris Musa said on Saturday.
An explosive encounter is anticipated at the Estadio Alajuela Morera Soto (same venue where the Falconets brought down the challenges of Korea Republic and Canada) as from 11.30pm Nigeria time on Sunday.
In the 20 –year history of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, Nigeria have played in the Championship Match twice, losing on both occasions to Germany, in Germany 12 years ago and in Canada eight years ago. In-between, they reached the semi finals in Japan 10 years ago.
Midfield powerhouse Esther Onyenezide, with three goals in the tournament, is expected to again be the driving force of the Nigeria game going forward, with pacy Flourish Sabastine and Blessing Okpe likely to start as the Falconets seek early goals, while workhorse Mercy Idoko and the duo of Deborah Abiodun and Bashirat Amoo would hold things tight in the middle.
Goalkeeper Omini Oyono is expected to be at her best as she is protected by captain Oluwatosin Demehin, Jumoke Alani, Omowumi Oshobukola and Rofiat Imuran.