By Albert Akota
Nigeria’s U20 girls, Falconets, will depart from their final training camp in Tirol, Austria on Thursday, 2nd August for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, with high level of confidence after scoring seven goals and conceding none in two friendly games.
The 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup silver medallists hammered Austrian Women League top flight team, FC Wacker Innsbruck 4-0 in their final pre-tournament friendly in Tirol, Austria on Saturday, with a brace from top scorer Rasheedat Ajibade and one each from Adebisi Saheed and Chinyere Igboamalu. A few days earlier, the Nigerian girls had spanked another Austrian top flight side, FC Bergheim 3-0.
Saturday’s match in Tirol was also watched by Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.
Ajibade, who plays for FC Robo Queens of Lagos and also featured at the last tournament in Papua New Guinea, top –scored for Nigeria in the African qualifying campaign and is heavily touted to dazzle the world in France next month.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala was the top scorer and best player at the 2014 finals in Canada, where the Falconets finished as runners-up behind Germany.
The U20 girls remain Nigeria’s most successful women’s team at global level, winning silver at the FIFA World Cup twice (Germany 2010 and Canada 2014) and bronze once (Japan 2012), and reaching the quarter finals in Thailand (2004), Russia (2006) and Chile (2008).
The four official host cities for the 9th FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup are located in the Brittany region: Concarneau, Dinan/Léhon, Saint-Malo and Vannes. The Stade de la Rabine in Vannes will host the opening match on 5th August as well as the final match of the competition on 24th August.
Nigeria will battle Haiti, China and Germany in Group D of the 16 –nation finals, while Africa’s other flagbearer Ghana must negotiate a tough Group A against host France, New Zealand and The Netherlands.
Group B has North Korea, England, Mexico and Brazil while USA, Japan, Paraguay and Spain fight things out in Group D.
The Falconets’ opening match is against perennial foes Germany (who beat Nigeria in the 2010 and 2014 Final matches) at the Stade de Marville in Saint-Malo on Monday, 6th August, before clashes with Haiti at the same venue on Thursday, 9th August and against China in Dinan/Léhon’s Stade de Clos Gastel on Monday, 13th August.
To qualify for the finals, the Falconets dismissed Tanzania’s U20 girls 9-0 aggregate, brushed aside Morocco 6-2 on aggregate and whiplashed their South African counterparts 8-0 over two legs in January this year.