The Falconets of Nigeria have been been grouped to lock horns with South Korea, Canada and France at the Under-20 women's world cup in the summer.
In truth, the group is not as insurmountable for the Falconets .
They are not unfamiliar with these teams at this level and as a matter of fact, the omens are in thier favour to make it out of the group.
What has to be remembered is that this tournament still has a relatively low number of teams: 16 teams across just 4 groups.
As a result, all the groups are quite tough and highly competitive. Take, for instance, Ghana’s group which comprises of Holland, Japan and the United States of America – all formidable teams at this level with only the top two teams scaling through to the knockout phase.
Many major tournaments these days tend to have a minimum 6 groups for 24 teams. I forsee this Under-20 women’s world cup being expanded in the not too distant future.
As for Nigeria’s group, the Falconets have battled these 3 teams a combined 6 times, returning 4 wins and 2 loses.
We met Canada 3 times with 2 wins and 1 loss.
France have defeated us in our only encounter with them while we have returned 2 wins from our 2 duels against South Korea.
So, based on precedent, our most potent threat in the group is France. And we have every reason to be weary of the Fabulous French ladies.
They breezed through their under 19 Uefa Championship (qualifier) tournament undefeated with 13 goals against the likes of Holland, Norway, Spain and Germany.
France are indeed hot tournament favourites and Danjuma’s damsels will definitely have their work cut out against this juggernauts.
As for Canada, they scored a whooping 29 goals in their first 4 games in the Concacaf Under 20 women’s championships en route qualifying for this world cup.
Don’t be easily blown away though as these goals were against El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago and Cayman Islands. Against more formidable opponents Mexico, Panama and Puerto Rico, they scored only 3 goals and lost to Mexico.
Still, Canada are expected to present a stern test for the Falconets – a game Nigeria definitely cannot afford to lose.
As for South Korea, they scored 13 goals across 6 games in the Asian Under-19 championship against decent opponents to qualify for this championship.
The Korean ladies are definitely in it to win it and should never be seen as pushovers.
All of these just make for fascinating encounters for the Falconets . How they start will dictate how far they will advance in this championship.
Every match should have to be seen and approached as a cup final.
Should Danjuma’s damsels navigate the group stages successfully, then they can expect to go far in the tournament.
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