Updated: Mar 27
After sumptuously sweeping Senegal aside 3:1 in the first leg of this weekend's last round Under 20 women's world cup qualifiers, the Falconets knew they were just a heartbeat away from qualification.
And they did the business in their now-infamously ruthless manner by dismantling their Senegalese counterparts 4:1 today thereby ending the encounter with a truly astonishing 7:2 aggregate ( hence they consequently qualified for the World Cup in Costa Rica later in the year).
In the build up to this second leg at the
Samuel Ogbemudia stadium, Benin City, the Falconets' assistant coach Moses Aduku said: "Despite winning in Senegal, we will play like a cup final and finish strongly; we are coming all out from the blast of the whistle."
And that was exactly what his teenage ladies did as it took only 7 minutes for fabulous Flourish Sebastine to crash the back of the net for Nigeria's first goal. Even at that, the Falconets already had a goal disallowed in the 5th minute.
With Nigeria well in the driving seat, Sebastian's daring header in 20 minutes left the Senegal goalkeeper clutching at straws as girls were now effectively being separated from women - 2:0 to Nigeria at that point.
"(This) Nigerian side is more athletically and tactically ready. I have the impression that we do not play in the same age category," said the Senegalese coach Aicha Ndiaye before this match and to me, she was spot on as her girls and our merciless Falconets are definitely not in the same league.
And the gulf in class continued to be reflected on the pitch after Esther Onyenezide made it 3:0 for Nigeria from the penalty spot in just 25 minutes.
But there was to be a slim route back into the encounter for the Senegalese after their goalkeeper Ndiaye converted a penalty of their own in 45 minutes to make the scoreline 3:1 at that point, something that mirrors the final scoreline of the first leg.
To the eternal credit of the Senegalese, they never stopped battling which would have impressed their coach. Indeed for long periods in the second half, it was as if the game would end 3:1 or the Senegalese would somehow reduce the deficit with their admirable grit and determination, but it was not to be.
Super sub Joy Jerry jumped for joy when in 89 minutes, she added gloss to the scoreline with an emphatic finish that left the Senegalese stunned.
4:1 it ended.
In truth, I cannot praise these Falconets too highly. They deserve every accolade that comes their way. It has been an extremely heartwarming, gratifying and uplifting campaign that saw these promising ladies not only qualify for the World Cup, but to also do so in style.
Two goals hero Flourish Sebastine said: "My big motivation is seeing myself at the Under-20 Women's World Cup and to showcase what we've got to win the trophy."
And all I can say is, 'all of us Nigeria fans are right with you all the way; you've got this!'