Nigeria’s Super Falconets did the almost impossible by coming from behind to eliminate world champions, USA from the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Germany yesterday.
Goalkeeper Alaba Jonathan was the hero as she saved one penalty kick and intimidated USA star player Sydney Leroux into missing the decisive kick to send Nigeria through 4-2 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in regulation and extra-time.
Amber Brooks had given the USA the lead on nine minutes as a nervy Nigerian team struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the opening 45 minutes. It was to their credit though, that despite the disjointed play, they held it down at the back and kept the dangerous Sydney Leroux quiet.
At the other end, the USA back-four were also doing a good job stifling and keeping pace with Nigeria’s lethal combination of Ebere Orji and Eberechi Oparanozie.
The Falconets best passage of play came in the closing minutes of the first half when composed passing and ball movement opened up the USA defence, but Orji hit tamely at the keeper.
Nigeria looked a side reborn in the second half, continuing from where they left off in the first and threatened the world champions endlessly.
Both Orji and Oparanozie had half-chances to reap rewards, but found their route blocked by Crystal Dunn and Henninger.
Nigeria coach Ndem Egan then threw on the mercurial Esther Sunday, who had been inexplicably left out of the starting eleven, and Nigeria looked even more dangerous. And the goal didn’t take long to follow.
Sunday rolled a free-kick into the path of Ukaonu, who zapped an unstoppable effort past Henninger and into the top right hand corner.
Nigeria had their tails up and were pinning the rattled Americans back in their own half, but there were to be no further goals even in extra time, although both sides had chances to do so.
Oparanozie muscled round her marker, but hit the side netting with only Henninger in front of her, and Kristie Mewis crashed a volley on the crossbar late on. The game went into penalties, and it was the Nigerian who came out triumphant.
The victory marked the first time the Falconets would go beyond the quarter final stage of the competition and the first time any Nigeria woman football team will reach the semi final stage in a FIFA world cup
They will now play Colombia in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
NFF Yet To Offer Finidi, Shorunmu Contract
Four months after the Nigeria Football Federation announced ex-internationals George Finidi and Ike Shorunmu assistant coaches to Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, both are yet to be offered a contract by the federation, Tidesports source has learnt.
On May 15, the NFF appointed Peseiro as the new Eagles head coach, with Finidi named the Portuguese first assistant. Salisu Yusuf serves as the second assistant as well as head coach of the CHAN and U-23 National Teams.
Shorunmu was named the goalkeepers trainer, with Usman Abdallah third assistant, while Eboboritse Uwejamomere is the match analyst.
While Peseiro, 62, was offered a performance-based one-year contract and will reportedly earn $70,000 (N30m) monthly, Finidi and Shorunmu don’t know how much they will be paid, four months after they were ‘employed.’
It was gathered that the duo will not be on the bench when Nigeria take on Algeria for the 22nd time at the 40,000 Stade Olympique in Oran next Tuesday in an international friendly if they are not offered a contract and repaid their outstanding flight fares.
“The team traveled out of Nigeria for the game against Algeria last Sunday without Finidi and Shorunmu,” a top NFF official told only the Tidesports source.
“They have not been offered contracts by the NFF since they were appointed in May. It has been a while that the duo has been demanding their contract papers from the NFF but they are yet to get one.
Ndidi, Blow For Nigeria’s S’Eagles
Nigeria has suffered further blow ahead of the Super Eagles international friendly match with Algeria as Wilfred Ndidi joins the list of injury hit Nigerian players. The tough-tackling star is on his way back to England as confirmed by the Nigerian Foootball Federation
Ndidi was part of the Super Eagles squad that is preparing to play an international friendly game against Algeria on September 27 in Oran. The 25-year-old was named in Jose Peseiro’s midfield alongside Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi, and Richard Onyedika.
Peseiro’s plan will have to be changed with the latest development as confirmed by the Nigeria Football Federation. “Wilfred Ndidi is injured and out of the game against Algeria. He has left the team’s camp and returned to England. Get well soon Wilfred,” the NFF posted on their Twitter handle on Thursday.”
Ndidi is just one of a number of key players who have pulled out of the build-up owing to injuries. Notable absentees are Napoli attacker Victor Osimhen who is set to return in a couple of weeks while Real Sociedad forward Umar Sadiq might be out for the rest of the season. The Super Eagles are also missing Leon Balogun, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Dennis, Henry Onyekuru, and Samuel Chukwueze.
After his latest setback, the midfielder will potentially miss out on Leicester City’s Premier League match against Nottingham Forest and the chance to help his club side climb off the bottom of the table. Despite not knowing the precise nature of the injury, Ndidi must be hopeful he will be match fit in time for Nigeria’s friendly game against Ronaldo’s Portugal on November 17.
Invitation To National Team, An Added Motivation – Duru
Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt left back Ebube Duru has expressed delight over his call-up to the Nigeria National team, Super Eagles, saying that it would motivate him to greater things.
He said that it is a thing of joy for every Nigeria Professional Football League, (NPFL) player to be invited to the National team, the Super Eagles, adding that is not just the home based players but every Nigerian player.
Duru made the assertion on Tuesday in a chat with the national team’s media officer, which was made available to Tidesports.
He was included in Super Eagles manager José Santos Peseiro’s’s squad for their forthcoming International friendly against Algeria slated for next week Tuesday.
“ it is a thing of joy for me as a person to be invited to play in the main team of my Country.
“It’s a thing of joy playing with the main Super Eagles.
“ It’s the main desire of every NPFL players to play for Super Eagles not just the home based players but every Nigeria players.
”So I’m very excited and so happy that I have the opportunity to play with the foreign based players.
“ I will now know most of them and interact with them.
“ This is a big morale booster for me as a player and am so excited” Duru said.
The left back has featured for the Super Eagles B (CHAN) team and has impressed while playing for the Pride of Rivers.
Three-time African Champions Nigeria trade tackles with the 2019 AFCON kings in Oran on Tuesday, next week.
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