Nigeria’s Flamingos on Friday beat the USA to reach their first-ever semi-final at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
The Flamingos won 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes of regulation time.
Coming into the game, the Americans were tipped as the favourites but Onamuzo Edafe gave Nigeria the lead just after 25 minutes. A VAR review had confirmed a foul on Amina Bello with the referee wasting no time in pointing to the spot.
The Americans piled pressure on the Nigerians and were rewarded just before half-time. They equalized in the 40th minute through Amalia Martina Villarreal’s strike.
Both teams started the second half trying to get a second goal with the US dominating much of the encounter. But a goal never came resulting in a penalty shootout to decide who goes into the semi-final.
Nigeria will now play the winner of the game (holding on Saturday) between Colombia and Tanzania on Wednesday, October 26th, 2022.
With four minutes of extra time played, Coach Olowookere Bankole made a double switch that many would describe as tactical.
He brought on Linda Jiwuaka to replace goalkeeper Faith Omilana while Amina Bello was substituted and Offing Immaculate was brought in.
The switch paid off in the end as Linda saved the last spot kick to hand Nigeria a semi-final ticket.
An excited Coach Bankole, who was beaming with a smile after the game, said he is “here to create a lot of upset, to turn a lot of things”. He thanked God and Nigerians for their support so far, expressing confidence that her girls will go all the way.
In the wake of the victory, congratulatory messages have continued to pour in with CAF leading the line.
“THIS IS JUST INCREDIBLE. Nigeria beat the USA and reach the #U17WWC semi-finals after a penalty shootout win,” CAF Women’s Football tweeted, sharing photos of the team celebrating the victory. “What an outstanding performance from the Flamingos.”
Friday’s game at the D.Y.Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai was delayed for about two hours due to adverse weather. There were heavy thunderclaps and lightning in the arena.
This later resulted in a downpour with the teams – who had sung the national anthems – forced back into the dressing room. Spectators were also not left as they took cover to avoid bashing from the heavy rain.