Nigeria have qualified for a record tenth FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica on Saturday after a 4-1 win over Senegal in Benin City.
The all-West African final round fixture saw the Senegalese suffer a 3-1 first-leg loss to the Nigerians no thanks to a hat-trick from Flourish Sabastine in Thies.
In the reverse tie, Sabastine netted a brace and a goal each from Esther Onyenezide and Joy Jerry ensured the Falconets earned a double over the young Teranga Lionesses despite Adji Ndiaye’s strike from the spot.
The Nigerians made the brightest start on their home ground as Sebastine continued from where she left off in Thies, opening the scoring with her seventh-minute strike at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Red-hot Sabastine doubled the lead for the Falconets when she headed in a cross from Onyenezide in the 20th minute before the latter got on the scoresheet from the spot five minutes later.
With 3-0 down, the Senegalese came alive and pushed for a comeback until they were rewarded with a penalty which Adji Ndiaye converted to pull one back on the brink of half time.
After the restart, the two teams created numerous chances but failed to hit the back of the net until substitute Joy Jerry, who replaced Mercy Idoko was set up by Sabastine to complete the rout a minute from time.
A 7-2 aggregate win saw Nigeria confirm their tenth qualification to the global competition, where they twice emerged as vice-champions in Germany in 2010 and Canada in 2014, after clinching one of the two tickets as Africa representatives.
On the other hand, the defeat marked the end of the road for Senegal in their fourth attempt at their maiden World Cup dream.
WHAT THEY SAID
Christopher Danjuma [U20 women’s head coach, Nigeria]
“It was very exciting! We give all glory to God for qualifying for the tenth time and being a part of the ninth and the tenth, I am grateful for these. It was overwhelming and exciting to be part of the U20 Women’s World Cup coming up in Costa Rica.
The Federation and the technical department have done a collation and reports of how we were able to get to the World Cup final twice, this report is now a roadmap for us to work with and not just work ambiguously. So, we have informed plans to make sure that we do Nigeria proud.”
Sabastine Flourish [Striker, Nigeria]
“I am very excited that against Senegal, I got my first hat-trick two weeks ago. I put all my efforts to see we perform well against Senegal at home all thanks to the coaches and the technical crew. I dedicate the hat-trick to them because our play is according to their preplanned training. Scoring two today [Saturday] increased my joy and I am excited about those goals.
Oluwatosin Demehin [U20 women’s captain, Nigeria]
“Nigerians should be expecting more of these wins and better displays, we’ve put in a lot of effort to be the first to qualify for the Costa Rica FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, from Africa. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and Nigerian should look forward to greater performance in Costa Rica.”
Aicha Henriette Ndiaye [U20 women’s coach of Senegal]
”We learned a lot tonight against a great big team from Nigeria, we had chances, our girls performed well. I think that we can come back stronger in the years to come with a very young team, but this Nigerian team is more experienced. And we have to bring CAF to introduce MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in women’s competitions. I have doubts about the age of some Nigerian players but we also have to go beyond the score or even all the experience acquired during these qualifiers. I also say congratulations and good luck to Nigeria for the World Cup.”
Hapsatou Diallo [Topscorer, Senegal]
“I am proud and very happy at the same time. This is the first time that the U20 women’s national team has reached this level. It motivates me more to try to help my country qualify for the World Cup. Nigeria is indeed the biggest country in terms of women’s football in Africa, but we too have worked hard to reach this level. The Nigerian team beat us at home but we had chances and were even able to score against them. We thought it was possible to beat them at home, but didn’t happen.” Source: Cafonline