The Falconets take on The Netherlands in a quarter-final clash at the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup late Monday, seeking to extend their perfect run in the championship.
Nigeria, two-time finalists since the age-grade competition started 20 years ago, won all group stage games to set up the mouth-watering clash with the Europeans. Coach Chris Danjuma’s girls scored five goals in those matches, conceding just once to emerge Group C winners. That will be the first time Nigeria will amass all nine points at stake in the group stage.
Titans Vs Emerging Powerhouse
— FIFA Women’s World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 18, 2022
Aside from reaching the final in 2010 and 2014 – losing on both occasions to Germany – the Falconets finished as semi-finalists in 2012. They have also featured in all editions of the competition which started in 2002.
While the West Africans are what many may call “veterans” in the age-grade tournament, the Dutch do not boast of such intimidating credentials.
This is just their second outing in the competition having reached the last eight in 2018. The Dutch, who finished runners-up in Group D with six points, have never met Nigeria at this level.
In fact, the Falconets are only the second African side they will be battling since their debut four years back.
Led by 41-year-old Coach Jessica Torny, the Dutch side defeated Ghana 4-0 in 2018 before thrashing the Black Princesses 4-1 in the ongoing championship.
They may be tagged “inexperienced”, but the Oranje Girls are a free-scoring setup built on sleek, quick movements that have produced seven goals – only behind Spain with eight.
With a flourishing attacking setup, Nigerian coach Danjuma will be banking on his side’s mean defence to keep The Netherlands – a team he admitted as “strong” – at bay in the intriguing clash.
“The Dutch are a super-strong squad to have survived that group where the Americans were sent packing,” he told a pre-match presser.
“In any event, any team in the quarter-final must be a super-strong squad. We will not under-rate them, just as we did not under-rate any of France, Korea Republic, and Canada”.
Despite an enviable group run, Coach Danjuma maintains his girls are not carried away.
“As I said at the beginning of the tournament, we are taking it one match at a time,” the gaffer added. “Our overall plan for each of the games in the group phase worked well. And I believe that our overall plan for the match against The Netherlands will work as well.”
For his Dutch counterpart, reaching the second round of games is a fulfillment of their goal. But more is welcomed.
“We have reached our goal, which was the quarter-final. That pressure is off, but now we have new pressure,” Jessica said in a press conference ahead of the encounter. “We want more from this tournament. We’ll give everything to reach the semi-finals.”
Players To Watch
Nigeria 🇳🇬 🆚 Netherlands 🇳🇱
— Esther Onyenezide (@EOnyenezide10) August 21, 2022
To reach that milestone, the Dutch will have to find a way to stop in form Esther Onyenezide and her teammates. The FC Robo Queens midfielder is Nigeria’s top scorer having struck thrice.
Topscorer in the qualifiers Flourish Sabastine is equally expected to add to her one-goal tally so far while Mercy Idoko, Deborah Abiodun, and Bashirat Amoo will run the show in midfield.
Defensive stalwart and skipper Oluwatosin Demehin will lead the backline to provide cover for goalkeeper Omini Oyono.
Time, Other Details Of Nigeria Vs The Netherlands’ Match
M A T C H D A Y! 🔥
Our Falconets seek to break semifinal jinx since Canada 2014
🏟️ Estadio Alajuela Morera Soto
⚽Nigeria 🇳🇬 🆚 Netherlands 🇳🇱
— NGSuper_Falcons (@NGSuper_Falcons) August 21, 2022
Match venue: Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto, Alajuela
Date: Sunday, August 21, 2022
Kick-off time: 11:30 p.m (Nigerian time/WAT)