It was heartbreak for the Flamingos who missed an opportunity to reach the final of the FIFA U17 Women’s World when they lost to Colombia via penalties on Wednesday.
They faced a team that looked much better on the field but they held on for a goalless draw and gave themselves an opportunity to win it from the shoot out. Alas, it was not to be as their luck ran out inside the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the Indian city of Goa.
The Flamingos started the first half with the higher ball possession but could only muster one shot on target.
Colombia turned around their fortunes midway as goalkeeper Faith Omilana was called upon to make saves off Yesica Munoz and Mary Espileta as Nigeria were lucky not to concede.
Munoz was also denied a goal by the offside flag as she thought she had put the South Americans in front.
In the second half, Omilana kept being called to rescue the Nigerians with a very important save to deny Linda Caicedo’s shot on goal.
Nigeria were pinned back in their half by the enterprising Colombians who were more business-like. But the Flamingos kept their resolve, repelling every wave of attack.
As the clock ran down and penalty shoot-out approached, Nigeria substituted goalkeeper Omilana and replaced her with Chikamso Jiwuaka, heroine of the penalty kicks against the United States.
Jiwuaka saved one of the five penalties to give Nigeria the advantage. But Omamuzo Edafe, who scored two penalties in the win against the USA, missed Nigeria’s fifth kick to send it into sudden death.
Both teams scored their next kicks as the pressure piled on with the Nigerian players looking reluctant to step up to take the penalties. Colombia’s Natalia Hernandez scored to make it 6-5 and it was left for a reluctant Comfort Folorunsho to take the Nigerian kick.
Having missed a penalty in the quarter final against the USA, it was understandable why Folorunsho was unwilling to take on the task. Colombian goalkeeper Luisa Agudelo dived correctly and made the save that sent the South Americans into the final and an evening of rapturous celebrations.
Nigeria will play for third place against the loser of the second semi final between Germany and Spain.
The Nigerian girls can hold their head up after playing at this tournament where their previous best was a quarter final finish.
Bravo flamingoes dey tried, kudos 2 u all
congratulations to the Colombia team .