With the painful 0:2 home defeat to South Africa on the 10th of June 2017 in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match still fresh in the minds of many Nigerian fans, the Under-20 women’s team have to face their South African counterpart this weekend in a world cup qualifying match.
A positive result away will make the return leg at home on the 26th of January 2018 less trickier to navigate.
The stakes could not be higher.
Overcome South Africa and continue the tradition of qualifying for the U-20 women’s world cup since 2002; fail and South Africa will hope to continue a recent tradition of stopping Nigeria from qualifying for major competitions.
So, can our girls do it?
South Africa are a free scoring side with 9 goals scored overall home and away in the first round of qualifiers against Namibia - they conceded no goals.
In the second round against Burundi, they scored 5 goals overall and conceded 2. The young South African ladies play in a coordinated fashion and appear well motivated not only to qualify for the world cup in France later this year – the first in their history at that level – but also to do so at the expense of their bitter rivals.
Nigeria, on the other hand, have scored a total of 15 goals in the first and second rounds of the qualifiers against Tanzania and Morocco and have only conceded 2.
The Falconets, as they are called, tend to play from the flanks with cross-field balls to dangerous parts of their opponents’ halves and rely at times on long balls to evade packed midfields.
These, on paper, are two evenly matched sides which make for tantalising two-legged encounters.
Commenting on the chances of the Falconets, the coach of the Nigerian U20 women’s team Chris Danjuma said on thenff.com: “Of course, we understand that the South Africans would be tougher opposition than our previous opponents. We have been working very hard at training for some weeks now…. we are very focused …… and are ready for them.”
“Our eyes are on the ticket to France” he asserted.