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Sports News of Friday, 19 August 2022


U-20 W/C: Falconets maintain perfect run, daze Canada 3-1

Falconets Falconets

Nigeria’s Under 20 Women’s national team, the Falconets have beaten Canada 3-1 to emerge as Group C leader.

They also secured three group stage victories for the first time in their participation in the FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup.

Having won their opening two games against France and South Korea by the odd goal, the Falconets knew a draw would be sufficient to end the group stage in first spot irrespective of the outcome of France versus South Korea.

Playing at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto, Alajuela the same venue they defeated South Korea 1-0 in their second game, the Falconets conceded their first goal in the competition as early as the second minute after an error by goalkeeper, Omini Oyono gifted Canadian Kaila Lillyanna Novak the opening goal. She made a mincemeat of a routine back pass from defender, Jumoke Alani.

Midfielder, Esther Onyenezide, whose vicious curling shot earned all three points against Korea Republic late on, to send the Falconets into the last eight on Monday morning, scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute to pull the Falconets level. Defender Mia Pante had handled the ball from a Blessing Okpe shot in the box.

The Falconets looked composed and surefooted in the middle with the return of Deborah Abiodun, who sat out the encounter with the Koreans and Chiamaka Okwuchukwu also played an inspired game after starting for the first time in the tournament. Her firm header from a Blessing Okpe cross in the 15th minute missed narrowly.

Onyenezide shot Nigeria ahead, also from the spot, in the 32nd minute minute, after Simi Awujo’s dangerous play against Mercy Idoko, as the latter went for a header from Rofiat Imuran’s inswinger, was penalized. It was her third goal of the competition in the last two games.

In the added time of first period, Idoko came close to scoring her first goal of the tournament, but her touch from another Imuran inswinger kissed the upright.

In the second half, the Falconets added pace and brilliant use of space to their game, and it was no surprise when Imuran, again with a visionary cross, set up substitute Chioma Olise for Nigeria’s third goal.

Their imperial campaign in the group stage earns the Falconets a quarter-final date with The Netherlands in Alajuela by 1am on Monday (Nigeria time).

The Falconets will hope to qualify for the semi-final for the fourth time in their participation in the competition after doing so successfully in 2010, 2012 and 2014 with their best being their final appearances in 2010 and 2014 in Germany and Canada respectively.