Nigeria edge Germany to claim bronze
- Nigeria take third place at India 2022
- Ended their campaign with victory over Germany
- African side’s best-ever finish in the competition
Khel Today Bureau
New Delhi: Nigeria have well and truly made their mark on the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022™.
For their first time in their history, the Africans clinched a place on the podium with a thrilling win over Germany in the match for third place. It came on penalties, after the two sides had played out a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw in normal time.
The furthest the Nigerians had progressed at the U-17 world finals before now was the quarter-finals, a stage they reached in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Their record-breaking India 2022 campaign included wins over New Zealand and Chile in the group phase, followed by a penalty-shootout defeat of USA in the last eight.
Opeyemi Ajakaye, Amina Bello and Edidiong Etim were the scorers as Nigeria surged into a 3-0 lead in normal time, only for Germany to peg them back with goals from Jella Veit, Paulina Bartz and Loreen Bender to force a penalty shootout.
Paulina Platner, Bender and Bartz all missed from the spot for the reigning European champions. And though Germany keeper Eve Boettcher saved from Tumininu Adeshina, it was not enough to stop Nigeria edging the shootout 3-2.
Nigeria use their weapons well
With 20 minutes of the match gone, Ajakaye showed her pace down the right flank, latching on to a fine pass from Taiwo Afolabi, surging into the box and firing off a shot that Boettcher could not keep out.
Nigeria then showed their set-piece skills to make it 2-0. Miracle Usani, who has excelled throughout the tournament, floated a corner onto the head of the unmarked Bello, who nodded home with aplomb.
The African side’s third also came from a corner, this time taken by Adeshina. Germany’s defence was unable to clear, giving Etim the opportunity to volley the ball past Boettcher.
Germany began their fightback from another dead-ball situation, with Veit getting on the end of a well-flighted free-kick from the left to head in. Veit had a hand in Germany’s second, sending a cross into the box that Laila Portella laid off for Bartz score from close range.
The equaliser came on the stroke of full-time. When Mathilde Janzen’s curling long-range effort came back off the bar, Bender was there to hook the ball into the net with an acrobatic overhead kick.
Despite Boettcher’s save from Adeshina in the resulting shootout, misses by Platner, Bender and Bartz gave the Nigerians a 3-2 win on penalties and the best finish they have ever achieved in the competition.
Nigeria goalkeeper Faith Omilana said, “I’m very happy. I gave my all for the team and I gave my all to keep the ball out. My team is so important to me. We practised penalties together and I focused very hard so I could save them.”