By Victor Kanayo
Nigeria’s U20 women team, the Falconets, have reached the last eight of the 10th FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals ongoing in Costa Rica after another gutsy performance saw them collect all three points from Korea Republic in a 1-0 win in Alajuela.
The top-of-the-table clash was highly anticipated as both teams knew a win would take them to the tournament’s quarter-finals, both having won their respective first games of the tournament. Korea Republic were top of the log on goal difference, having defeated Canada 2-0, after the Falconets had beaten France 1-0 on Friday morning.
There was little to choose between the two teams until midfielder Esther Onyenezide’s fierce curling shot flew past Yoonji Do for the only goal of the match in the 83rd minute.
Hayeon Mu missed from a corner kick and Garam Chun hit the upright from a free-kick, but Nigeria managed to keep things tight at the back even as energetic Mercy Idoko, Onyenezide and Bashirat Amoo worked tirelessly in the middle.
In the 54th minute, Onyenezide’s rasping shot from the right side was parried away by Do, and 10 minutes later, it was the turn of Oyono Omini, in goal for Nigeria, to parry away a fierce 25 –yard shot unleashed by Eunyoung Lee.
Effervescent midfielder Onyenezide would have the last word, curling a fierce shot past Do with only seven minutes to go to send Africa’s best team into the quarter-finals.
The Falconets still have to play Canada in the early hours of Thursday, but they surely would already be looking at possible quarter-final opponents from Group D.
Cup holders Japan, The Netherlands, USA and Africa’s other flagbearers Ghana make up Group D.