The Nigeria u17 women’s national team won a World Cup quarterfinal match for the first time on Friday
Flamingos head coach Bankole Olowookere is convinced that hard work and not luck was the secret behind Nigeria’s first-ever appearance at the semifinals of the FIFA u17 Women’s World Cup.
The Nigerian cadet team, on Friday afternoon, defeated their United States counterpart 4-3 on penalties (full-time scores: 1-1) in the quarterfinals of India 2022.
Before the delayed kickoff, the United States, Group A winners, were the favourites to claim a win against the West Africans.
And the Americans did not disappoint, as they dominated for long stretches of the match, out-shot the Flamingos 27-8, and racked up 15 corner kicks to Nigeria’s four.
Player of the match and Nigerian descent Onyeka Gamero was a constant thorn in the flesh of the Flamingos, forcing a goal-line clearance just before stoppage time.
But the Flamingos were resolute in defence and showed cool nerves to score four of their penalties and book their place in the World Cup’s final four.
But for Nigeria’s coach Bankole Olowookere, the Flamingos were not inferior to the Americans.
And the veteran tactician believes his team’s hard work and preparation gave them victory over their quarterfinal foes.
“As a country, Nigeria is bigger than just the quarter-finals, and the victory against the USA was a reward for hard work,” OIowookere said.
“We are not destined to be in the quarter-finals, we are a big nation in football so we just needed to work things out and God allowed things to work for us; that’s why we are here today.”
Nigeria reached the quarterfinals stage of the FIFA u17 Women’s World Cup three times in 2010, 2012, and 2014 but failed to go beyond.
In the Flamingos’ first-ever semi-final appearance in the tournament, the Nigerians will face the winner of the quarterfinal clash between Colombia and Tanzania.