By Harry Awurumibe, Africa’s No. 1 Women Football Journalist
The Falconets late Sunday night qualified for the quater-final round of the on-going FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica as Esther Onyenezide’s 83 minute goal assisted by forward Chiamaka Okwuchukwu ensured Nigeria beat Korea Republic 1-0 to secure six points in two games in Group C after recording a 1-0 victory over France earlier in the first match.
Like in the first match against France, Nigeria left it late at Estadio Alajuela Morera Soto , San Jose, to grind out victory as the rain-delayed encounter between the two countries that won their opening Group C matches as Korea Republic defeated Canada 2-0 while Nigeria edged France 1-0 in the other match. O
The Falconets made their intentions to secure three full points to brighten their chances of advancing to next round early in the game as the Nigerians raided the vital area of the ‘Taeguek Nangja’ (Taeguek Ladies) with attackers Flourish Sabastine, Joy Jerry and Mercy Idoko running riot in the 4-3-3 formation adopted by Head Coach Christopher Danjuma Musa to hassle the Koreans.
With midfielders Onyenezide, who later scored the lone goal and won Player of the Match Award, linking up play with veteran Bashirat Amoo and Deborah Abiodun, Nigeria grew big into the game as defenders Oluchi Ohaegbulemluchi , Chidinma Ogbuchi and team captain Blessing Demehin held their own strongly at the back to protect goalkeeper Oyono Omini who has not conceded a goal in 180 minutes of football in Costa Rica so far.
The Koreans will feel they could have gotten something from the high intensity match against Nigeria as they threatened a couple of times but they will have to fight for their survival in the last match against while Nigeria can use the last Group C match against Canada on Thursday to test the readiness of some of the players who have not tasted action in Costa Rica,.
This will be the third time Nigeria has defeated Korea Republic in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup match dating back to 2-0 win in August 19, 2012 in Japan and 2-1 victory over Korea Republic in August 9, 2014 in Canada just as on both occasions Nigera finished top of the group and Korea placed second as they qualified for the knock out stage.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons had also defeated Korea Republic 2-0 at Stade d’ Gronoble, France in the country’s only win in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, a victory which earned Nigeria three points that guaranteed the Africans a place in the Round of 16 stage where Team Nigeria was eliminated by Germany also in Gronoble.