The Flamingos of Nigeria face a potential banana skin in the way of Ethiopia which they will now do battle for one of Africa’s three tickets to this year’s Under-17 women’s world cup.
Ethiopia overcame South Africa 3:1 on aggregare in their semifinal fixtures while Nigeria thrashed Egypt with 6 unrequited goals.
On paper, it is easy to think this could be another potential walk in the park for Coach Bankole and his girls but the Ethiopians might yet have some tricks up their sleeves.
Against Uganda in Entebbe in the second round of qualifiers, Ethiopia showed their resourcefulness in overcoming two goals deficit in this first leg to claw their way back into the tie with two goals of their own with 13 minutes left. Even in the second leg at home, they came back to draw 1:1 thereby making progress on away goals rule.
So, Bankole and his girls have to be weary of Ethiopia’s never-say-die attitude.
Also, against South Africa in the penultimate round of qualifiers, they ruthlessly punished mistakes made by the South Africans to run away 3:0 winners in the first leg.
So, the Flamingos cannot afford to take their eyes off the ball against these perilous Ethiopians.
Additionally, the last set of games between Nigeria and Ethiopia in 2017 at this level ended 1:1 in Addis Ababa and 0:0 in Benin City with Nigeria pulling through to the second round of the 2018 under 17 women’s world cup qualifiers on the fortuitous away goals rule.
So, Nigeria found Ethiopia a difficult nut to crack in 2017 with the East Africans hoping to be even more difficult this time around.
Bankole’s Flamingos are however a different proposition from the Flamingos of 2017. They are crisp and compact in their play with razor sharp cutting edge edge up front and a solidly fortified defence.
Hence they have scored a bucket load of goals and are yet to concede any goals in this qualifying series.
But they can’t afford to rest in their laurels. Should they bite on the ampoules of distraction and complacency, they will be submerged against this tricky Ethiopian side.
It is hard to see that happening though. Bankole and his girls have shown impeccable levels of focus and concentration throughout this series.
It will be a monumental shock to see them let up with the promise land within such a close proximity.
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