With their trade mark of speed and strength, Nigerian national female U-20 soccer team last Wednesday secured their equalizer, three minutes before the end of the first half, against Mexico in the on-going FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The match was played at the Moncton Stadium (August 6), in their Group C pairings that also saw a 1-1 draw between England and Korea Republic.
France meanwhile overwhelmed Costa Rica 5-1 and New Zealand dismissed Paraguay 2-0 in Group D.
Nigeria, considered one of the powerhouses in the female division Africa, could have leveled the scores earlier in the first half but striker Asisat Oshoala who had a glorious chance saw her goal-bound lob over advancing Mexican goalkeeper hit the cross bar and misdirected. Subsequently, when the Mexicans took over the game in due course, striker Fabiola Ibarras scored from 20 meters, after Nigerian goalkeeper Sandra Chiichii poorly cleared the ball with a header.
Reports monitored by the Daily Observer said the Africans followed it up with a counter attack that Mexican goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago had to call on her experience to prevent Nigerian striker Loveth Ayila’s diagonal shot from entering the net.
In 2012, it was the Nigerian side that defeated the Mexicans in the quarter-finals 1-0, and many held the hope that after the 1-1 a piece before intermission, the Africans could have returned to wrap up their game with a victory.
Impressively, the Nigerians created goal-making chances but could not finish the job. The Mexicans responded gamely but it was Nigeria’s main attacking source Oshoala whose remarkable work rate almost got her another goal but goalkeeper Santiago did his best to deny her the glory. In fact, had Nigeria’s Courtney Dike anticipated Oshoala’s run, she could have gotten the winner, nonetheless, which did not happen.
Still searching for the elusive winner, Nigeria’s striker Ugo Njoku sent a brilliant header that went off target, from an intelligent corner-kick by Ayila. The Mexicans followed that near miss with a counter attack, with fifteen minutes remaining.
As the game progressed, Mexico’s Tania Samarzic held on to a ball, dribbled past two opponents, only to fire wide.
And like a cue, Nigeria’s Oshoala completed an attack when she sent one over the bar with only goalkeeper Santiago to beat, to conclude a game that they could only settle on a 1-1 draw.
Today, Ghana will go against 2006 champions, Korea DPR; Germany vs. China PR; Canada vs. Finland and USA vs. Brazil.
Saturday’s pairings: England vs. Mexico; Korea Republic vs. Nigeria; New Zealand vs. France and Paraguay vs. Costa Rica.