The Super Falconets of Nigeria on Monday lost 1-0 to three-time champions Germany in a nerve-racking opening Group D encounter of the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Saint-Malo, France.
The Falconets, who spotted Nigeria’s new NIKE jerseys, put up an impressive display against their European counterparts and at some point dominated play in the exciting fixture but a 69th minute goal from the marauding Stefanie Sanders made the difference at the Stade de Marville, which had just 823 fans in attendance.
Both sides failed to break the deadlock in the opening period but the Nigerians could only hold on until the 69th minute before the Europeans claimed the lead following a corner and a resulting header that rocked the crossbar.
The loose ball fell to Sanders, who knocked home from close range to put the Germans in front. The Falconets almost levelled three minutes later but Peace Efih could only watch her swerving shot ricochet off the upright and roll into safety with goalkeeper Vanessa Fischer stranded.
Chiamaka Nnadozie, in goal for the Falconets, was the heroine of the Nigerian girls as she pulled off impressive saves to thwart the Germans.
The result means the Germans maintained their dominance over the Falconets at this level, having beaten the Nigerian U-20 girls in the finals of the 2010 and 2014 editions.
Coach Christopher Danjuma’s girls square up next against their Haitian counterparts, who lost 2-1 to China in the other Group D tie on Thursday at the same venue, before another potentially-explosive encounter against China on Monday.
China, with three points, occupy first place in the group with superior goals ahead of Germany, while Haiti and Nigeria occupy the rear with no points.
“The girls fought very hard and deserved at least a point from this match, but that is gone now and we have to look forward to Thursday. I believe the coaches have the ability to turn things around and ensure victory in the two remaining group phase matches,” Yusuf Ahmed, Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, told thenff.com after the match.