Nigeria’s Falconets will go head-to-head with Germany in a FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Group D opening contest that should be very demanding for the Africans at Stade Marville, Saint-Malo in France on Monday.
Inasmuch as this will be a demanding start for the Nigerians who are pooled in a tough group with China and Haiti being the other sides, the Germans are of course wary of the strengths of their opponents on Monday.
The Falconets in their own rights are one of the top sides of the U20 World Cup as they belong to the exclusive club of teams that have featured in all nine editions of the tournament. Their opponents Germany, the United States of America and Brazil also belong to that special exclusive club.
It is a meeting of familiar foes at this tournament but the Germans have always come out tops in previous meetings between the two nations.
Past meetings at U20 World Cups
In 2004, both countries met for the first time in the quarter-final stage in Chiang Mai, the largest northern city in Thailand. The Falconets were two minutes from a famous win before Anja Mittag cancelled Nkese Udoh’s goal to send the game into extra time. At 1-1 after extra time, the Germans won the penalty shootout to progress to the semis as the Europeans were eventually crowned champions that year.
When the Germans played hosts to the tournament in 2010, they triumphed to win their second title at the expense of a talented Nigerian side that had the like of Desire Oparanozie, Ngozi Ebere, Uchechi Sunday, Joy Jegede, Ebere Orji, Osinachi Ohale and co. The Germans won 2-0.
Four years later in Canada, the Germans claimed a third U20 title, and only nicked off Nigeria by a goal in extra time.
What they are saying ahead the match
Already FIFA on their website brands this contest as ‘the big match’ and the German head coach Maren Meinert acknowledged that they are in “a challenging group” with a potentially explosive opening game against Nigeria awaiting them.
“It’s a challenging group, but then they all are. I’m delighted to be playing in Saint-Malo because it’s such a lovely town. We’ll playing Nigeria there in our first game, one that shows you just how tough this group is, as we’ve faced them twice in the final,” 45-year-old Meinert said to FIFA.com when both teams were drawn in Group D.
Nigeria forward Rasheedat Ajibade is raring to go and is hopeful that the tournament in France will provide the chance to showcase her talent.
“I can’t wait to test myself against the best and to show the world what I can do. There’s no better opportunity,” the teenage Nigerian striker told FIFA.com.
Falconets head coach Christopher Danjuma is confident of a good start from his team against the Germans as they attempt to navigate out of a tough group.
“I am confident that the players will start well when we face Germany. This first game is very important,” he said.
Nigeria will follow up with two other group matches against Haiti and China on August 9 and 13 respectively.
© The Predictor NG