Brilliant goalkeeping and several kamikaze saves by Chiamaka Nnadozie could not prevent Nigeria’s youth female squad, Falconets from going down 1-0 against defending champions, Germany at this year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in France.
The Falconets entered the game with much determination and gusto, with a high level of zeal not to suffer a third loss to the Germans in the competition’s history, but, while Nnadozie ended up as Nigeria’s best player on the field, it was the holders who laughed last on Monday afternoon.
Such it was that three-time world champions Germany went ahead in the 69th minute, when Sanders tucked away a rebound.
Minutes later, Peace Efih saw her goal-bound effort crash against the post with the entire German defence well beaten.
Nonetheless, Nnadozie was outstanding as she pulled off several saves especially in the second half as the Germans piled on the pressure, but Nigeria’s leading goals scorer in the qualifiers, Rasheedat Ajibade could not hit her expected form.
While the Falconets’ next group match is against Haiti on Thursday, their defeat comes a day after Ghana also lost their opening game 4-1 to hosts France in Group A.
Emelyne Laurent began the hosts’ goals scoring spree after just five minutes with Helene Fercocq slotting home to make it 2-0.
Sandra Owusu-Ansah scored Ghana’s only goal on Sunday, but Laurent scored her second and France’s third in the 31st minute.
With Ghana hitting back through Owusu-Ansah with just over half an hour to go, French substitute Sandy Baltimore sealed France’s win in stoppage time to make it 4-1.
Ghana next play The Netherlands in Vannes on Wednesday in the competition that has four groups of four, but only the top two teams will progress to the quarter-final stage.
Match ratings for Nigeria’s players in their game read as follow – Chiamaka Nnadozie: Her team’s player of the match. She produced six world class saves. 8/10
Opeyemi Sunday: The full back was contended with defending her territory and hardly ventured forward. 5/10
Glory Ogbonna: Ogbonna was assured at the back. 6/10
Mary Ologbosere: It’s rare to see the Rivers Angels youngster feature at central defence. She relished the moment. 6/10
Chidinma Okeke: Another makeshift defender, who was confident marshalling the back four. 7/10
Peace Efih: The Edo Queens midfielder made crucial blocks and almost equalized but her bullet went off the post. 7/10
Bashirat Amoo: Amoo started the game very well and passed with confidence. 6.5/10
Saheed Adebisi: Falconets flop of the match. She was rarely involved and failed to deliver. 3/10
Rasheedat Ajibade: Ajibade didn’t really come to the party, was largely anonymous. The moment she got into the act her team almost scored. 5/10
Anam Imo: The Nasarawa Amazons forward was often left isolated. She caused the Germans all sorts of problems. 5.5/10
Aishat Bello: The starlet was made to track back before she was substituted. 3.5/10
Nigeria’s substitutes — Taibat Odueke: She offered little after coming on for the injured Efih. 4/10; and Grace Igboamalu: Offered support to Imo when she came on board. 4/10