The presence of Guingamp Ladies Club of France striker, Desire Oparanozie could not motivate Nigeria’s youth female national team, Falconets to victory in their opening Group D match against holders, Germany at the 9th FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Oparanozie, who stared in the 2010 and 2012 editions of the competition, scoring a total of five goals, turned up at match venue to watch the Falconets battle their perennial foes.
Germany had beaten Nigeria in the finals of the 2010 and 2014 editions of championships, but Oparanozie declared that it was time for Nigeria to get their pound of flesh from the Europeans.
However, a second half goal by Stefanie Sanders gave Germany a 1-0 victory over Nigeria in their group opener at Stade de Marville in Saint-Malo, France.
The physical German side tossed the ball around in the early exchanges and attacked with intent.
Playmaker Sanders got on the end of a well knitted pass from Jana Feldkamp before pulling the trigger and forcing Nigeria’s goalkeeper and player of the match, Chiamaka Nnadozie to a decent save.
Nigeria were very composed at the back with Chidinma Okeke marshaling the defence line, but Sanders was menacing upfront.
The Falconets started to press forward as the midfield trio of Bashirat Amoo, Peace Efih and Adebisi Saheed found their groove.
Christophe Danjuma’s charges worked it nicely down the right, with Ajibade showing her class with an excellent pass from the right hand side.
Laura Friegang then charged down at the Nigeria defence line but her pass was not well utilised by Lena Sophie Oberdorf hung back on the edge of the box.
It was goalless at half time as both sides were tactical and preferred to play on the counter.
The Germans twice probed for the opener in the space of five minutes after recess. The duo of Okeke and Mary Ologbosere did well to make crucial blocks.
Nnadozie came to the rescue of her team with an acrobatic save from Janina Minge’s well curled drive in the 55th minute.
Efih did well to block Lena Sophie Oberdorf’s low shot on the hour, as Germany moved the ball very well and pushed for the curtain raiser.
Oberdorf should have put the European side in front in the 64th minute, but she was cut short by Nnadozie who made herself big on one-on-one.
Friegang then dispatched a free kick which was tipped over the bar by Nnadozie for a corner.
From the resultant corner, the three-time champions went in front. Freigang’s set piece wasn’t well cleared by Nigeria and Sanders poked home.
Nigeria almost levelled matters in the 72nd minute. Efih’s right footed drive agonizingly came off the post.
Ajibade ghosted past her marker from the left hand side before delivering a perfect cross to the path of Anam Imo whose low shot was scrambled for a corner by goalkeeper Vanessa Fischer.
Amoo went close to equalising for Nigeria level in the 4th minute of added time but her shot went wide of the post.