Nigeria’s female youth national team, Falconets will fly into France this Thursday, from their training camp in Tirol, Austria ahead of their participation in this year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
Coach Christopher Danjuma and his lasses will make the trip with a high level of confidence after scoring seven goals and conceding none in two build-up friendly games, the second of which was a 4-0 spanking of Austrian Women League top flight team, FC Wacker Innsbruck.
The 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup silver medallists hammered Innsbruck in their final pre-tournament friendly in Tirol on Saturday, with a brace from top scorer, Rasheedat Ajibade and one each from Adebisi Saheed and Chinyere Igboamalu.
Ajibade, who plays for FC Robo Queens of Lagos, featured at the last tournament in Papua New Guinea and top scored for Nigeria in the African qualifying campaign.
Saturday’s match in Tirol was watched by Nigeria’s sports minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung, who said he was happy to learn that, few days earlier, the Falconets had also spanked another Austrian top-flight female side, FC Bergheim, 3-0.
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.
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).
For this year’s competition, 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.
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.
Group B has North Korea, England, Mexico and Brazil while USA, Japan, Paraguay and Spain fight things out in Group D.
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.
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 same venue on Thursday, 9th August and against China in Dinan/Léhon’s Stade de Clos Gastel on Monday, 13th August.
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.
Danjuma’s 21 players for France 2018 are – three goalkeepers: Onyinyechukwu Okeke, Rita Akarekor, and Chiamaka Nnadozie; as well as six defenders: Glory Ogbonna, Opeyemi Sunday, Mary Ologbosere, Joy Duru, Blessing Ezekiel, Oluwakemi Famuditi.
Others are seven midfielders: Christy Ucheibe, Bashirat Amoo, Peace Efih, Adebisi Saheed, Mary Saiki, Taibat Odueke, and Grace Igboamalu; as well as five forwards: Rasheedat Ajibade, Anam Imo, Chidinma Okeke, Aishat Bello, and Gift Monday.