As one of several ever-present teams at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, Nigerians can look back at a rich history in the competition, having twice qualified for the quarter-final stage. After being eliminated on goal difference at their first attempt in 2008, the team topped their group two years later. They were knocked out in the next round in one of the all-time classic matches of the competition, going down 6-5 after extra time against eventual winners, Korea Republic. In 2012, the Flamingoes again won their group. Hopes of becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals, however, were dashed as they were beaten on penalties by France, who went on to lift the trophy.
Nigeria qualified for the finals of the under-17 competition without playing a single match. Together with South Africa, the West Africans received a bye into the final round of the preliminaries, where they were drawn against South Sudan, who themselves had advanced to the second round after Morocco withdrew from the competition. However, the east Africans pulled out of the competition before the first match, giving Nigeria a place at the finals without the chance to kick a ball.
Coach Bala Nkiyu, who took over the team shortly before the scheduled qualifiers against South Sudan, said that he is confident his side will prove tough in Costa Rica, even though they have not played a competitive game since the last World Cup. "I will not predict how we will finish because you have to respect your opponents, but I am sure we will have a good team." Nkiyu brings the experience of having been assistant to Uche Eucharia at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup™. "Nigerian women's football has traditionally been very strong in Africa, and we are challenging globally at youth level. With good preparations, we will be a force to be reckoned with in Costa Rica," said Nkiyu, who has also coached team's in Nigeria's Premier League.
|IBE UKWU Felix|