Nigeria reached the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup semi-finals for the first time when the Flamingos kept their nerves to defeat the United States of America 4-3 on penalties in a pulsating quarter-final, at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, India on Friday.
The match tagged a battle of David against Goliath saw the Americans ratchet up the pressure to get an early goal after the game eventually started following a long delay due to adverse weather conditions. But Africa’s best team defended stoutly and showed no signs they could easily be brow-beaten.
The game flowed back and forth as Nigeria took the lead in the 27th minute when the Video Assistant Referee adjudged that Aminat Omowunmi Bello, had been unfairly hacked in the box as Nigeria launched an onslaught. A penalty was awarded and Right-back Omamuzo Edafe stepped up and fired the ball into the net.
The Americans, seeking a place in the last four for the first time in 14 years, were back on level terms 13 minutes later.
USA’s A. M. Villarreal fired in an equaliser for the North Americans after her strike deflected off Nigerian Comfort Folorunsho, past goalkeeper Faith Omilana.
Both teams fought admirably in the second half, with the Americans denied each time by Nigeria’s strong defense as the referee blew the full-time whistle. 1-1.
It went straight into penalties after 90 minutes. Edidiong Etim, Immaculata Offiong, Miracle Usani, and Omamuzo Edafe scored for Nigeria, while defender Comfort Folorunsho missed. Her miss did not matter as Emri blew her kick wide, while substitute goalkeeper Linda Jiwuaku saved from Bhuta to give Nigeria the victory.
Victory somewhat recreated the events of 25th July 2010 in Augsburg, Germany when the Nigeria Under-20 girls defeated their USA counterparts 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in a FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup quarter-final match.
The Flamingos will now take on the winner of the encounter between Colombia and Tanzania in the semi-finals.