High-riding Nigeria will look to make it a perfect group phase campaign at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup when they clash with Canada at the Estadio Alajuela Morera Soto in what would be the early hours of Thursday (3am) in Nigeria. Kick-off in Alajuela would be 8pm Costa Rica time on Wednesday.
Riding high as the top team of Group C following 1-0 wins over France and Canada has thrown the Falconets into the harshest spot of the klieglights, but Head Coach Chris Danjuma Musa says his girls have their feet firmly on the ground as they confront the North Americans for another three points.
“We would like to make it three wins out of three to maintain a great mental state –the winning mentality. If we are used to winning, it would be difficult for any team to bring us down.
“It would be a mistake to reduce our pace and zest simply because we have qualified for the quarter-finals. The best way to do it, always, is to consider each match as a task that must be accomplished and not slow down. We will still meet tougher teams ahead and the winning mentality is what will sustain us.”
Canada, who hosted the tournament eight years ago when Nigeria reached the Final for the second time (losing by the odd goal to Germany), are riding an impossibility wave after losing their first two games to Korea Republic and France, with a disadavantage of four goals. With Nigeria already qualified, the battle for the second spot from Group C is a straight one between Korea Republic and France, who play simultaneously (3am Nigeria time) at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose. Both teams have three points each.
For Canada to sneak through, they would have to achieve a high-score win against Nigeria, and hope that either of France or Korea Republic mutilate the other in the capital city.
Musa is certain to start with the girls who brought down the stubborn Koreans on Sunday night. Goalkeeper Omini Oyono showed improved composure and ball handling, and the steel and awareness of captain Oluwatosin Demehin, Omowumi Oshobukola, Jumoke Alani and Rofiat Imuran is sustaining the two-time runners-up quite well at the back.
Midfielder Esther Onyenezide, scorer of the scorcher that downed the Koreans, and forward Flourish Sabastine who netted the three-point winner against France, are also expected to be in the flow alongside Chioma Olise, Bashirat Amoo, Joy Jerry and the tireless Mercy Idoko.