One is almost left asking this question: are we in 1999 or 2022? Trust me, in this day and age, it passes belief how a female Nigerian national team from any age group can continue to leave continental devastation in its wake like this current Falconets squad.
Not content to be the only African team to have attended all under-20 FIFA women’s world cup and make the most appreciable impact in that tournament to date, the Falconets are on course again to qualify for the next installment of the tournament this year after sweeping Senegal aside in their own backyard with a compelling 3:1 victory this weekend.
With so much attention on merciless Mercy Ikodo before this first leg away match, it was fabulous Flourish Sebastian who flourished the most with her first hat-trick of this campaign in 8, 56 and 61 minutes. The Edo Queens FC dashing winger has now scored a total of five goals for Nigeria in this qualifying series.
Just as the Falconets thought they were heading for their 6th clean sheet in a row, that hope was effectively dashed by Adji Ndiaye’s 89th minute goal from the penalty spot for the hosts.
Senegal 1-3 Nigeria it ended.
Despite the minor irritation of the one goal conceded, this still remains an incredible campaign for the ladies from Nigeria who have been nothing but relentless from the off.
And, even though this particular encounter is just the first leg, it is impossible to see how Senegal – despite how impressive they themselves have been – can overturn this two goals deficit that confronts them in Benin in a fortnight.
Without being reckless or arrogant, the winners of this encounter across two legs are already known.
In this weekend’s first leg, the Falconets started like a house on fire, ready to settle the entire encounter in the first leg. Despite their urgency, they only managed one goal before halftime.
But they made up for very many missed opportunities in the second half with two more goals that put the outcome of the game beyond doubt despite the consolation goal from the hosts.
To be honest, one has to be impressed and proud in equal measure of this Falconets outfit. They have some truly skilful and gifted players in their ranks. Watching them play today, they were confident and comfortable with the ball. They had a game plan and stuck to it. They were positionally astute and tactically dialled in. They surely know how to hurt teams while at the same time keeping it tight at the back.
With zero defeat and a basket load of goals across 6 games, Coach Danjuma’s girls have been truly unstoppable.
To be this dominant in African football at their level is just a crime. They have no right to upend teams the way they do.
These ones have gone beyond the bounds of wickedness: dowsing teams in the flames of hopelessness, dashing hopes with reckless abandonment and decapitating the chances of their opponents with pitiless savagery; wherever you look, there have been Falconets’ victims at every turn.
Just imagine, after crushing Congo 4:0 in the first leg of their penultimate qualifiers, the severely disheartened East Africans threw in the towel and didn’t bother to show up for the return leg!
The Under-20 women’s world cup beckons for these impressive Nigerian ladies. They have already attained second place on two occasions – both against Germany. Based on how they play, they have a realistic chance of going far in this tournament.
Can they win it? Only time will tell.
But they still have the formality second leg against Senegal to come up in a fortnight. After that, let the world cup dream begin!
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