Flamingoes To Face Defending Champions


The Flamingoes of Nigeria will begin their quest at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad  and Tobago against holders Korea DPR on Sunday.  The Nigerians would seek to replicate the  achievement of their senior counterparts, the Falconets, who won silver at the recently  concluded FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

As the pre-eminent force in African women’s football, Nigeria, will be hoping to make more of  an impact on the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago than they did two  years ago in the inaugural tournament.

A straightforward campaign to reach New Zealand saw them qualify with a match to spare, and  they were tipped to go through from what turned out to be a topsy-turvy group. The Flamingoes  beat eventual group winners Korea Republic 2-1 before falling to England 1-0 in a match they  mostly dominated. Knowing that either of them could go through with a win, Nigeria and Brazil  then slugged it out to a 2-2 draw that saw neither progress to the knockout rounds.

Like two years ago, the Flamingoes were the first African team to qualify for the FIFA U-17  Women’s World Cup. In this case, their passage was booked following a 2-1 victory over South  Africa at the beginning of May. But the hard work of the two-legged tie against Bantwana was  done in the first match when the west Africans ran out to an impressive 5-0 win in Abeokuta two  weeks before.

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Ugochi Oparanozie was the spark in that one-sided contest, scoring four times, including a  first within a minute of the start of the match. Ngozi Okobi claimed the fifth in the first  leg, while Charity Adule and Oparanozie again bagged the two in the away leg.

Drawn into a manageable Group A in Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria coach Peter Dedevbo will be  looking for a fast start in their opener against holders Korea DPR. But if not, there should be  time to recover against tournament debutantes: the hosts and Chile, who finished second in  South America to Brazil.

The Flamingoes will no doubt be buoyed by the success of the Falconets, who battled their way  to the Final of the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany. Though the Falconets lost to the hosts  in the ultimate match, there is definitely a feeling that the ceiling has been broken for  Nigeria women’s football.

“The success of (the Falconets) presents us with a big challenge,” Dedevbo, who was an  assistant for the full Nigerian women’s team, said recently. “This is not the time to lower our  guard now that Nigerians are turning to women’s football. We need to stay focused, and we can  make the country proud.”

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