West African hopefuls Nigeria began their FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago with a bang, edging defending champions Korea DPR in a topsy-turvy contest at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Nigeria were the slightly better of the two sides in the first half of the Group A contest played in sweltering temperatures, scoring the go-ahead goal after only three minutes of play. Victoria Aidelomon put on a clinic out right before before crossing for Hgozi Oboki, the veteran of New Zealand 2008 making no mistake with her right-footed blast that soared past goalkeeper Choe Kyong Im. Oboki then nearly doubled the dose two minutes later, only to be denied this time at the last by the acrobatic Korean keeper.
Looking like they might be routed, the defending world champions slowly but surely managed to drag themselves back into the contest. Song Im was unlucky to see her shot hit the crossbar after seven minutes, and the Asian champions finally found a way through in the 28th minute. Kim Su Gyong, who only seconds earlier missed a golden chance from six yards out, received a pass well in the penalty area before swiveling and firing into the left corner of the net.
The Koreans looked to be getting a hold of the game after the interval and in the 58th minute they took a 2-1 lead. Kim Nam Hui crossed the ball for the diminutive Kim Kum Jong, who somehow managed to push her header into the back of the net. The lead didn’t last, however, and in the 77th minute the Nigerians drew level. Francisca Ordega turned on the after-burners and stormed into the penalty area to stroke home. Two minutes later the Africans sealed the win when Okabi collected a nicely lobbed pass and slammed home.
The Nigerians, whose U-20 side made big waves by finishing runners-up at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany last month, next take on hosts Trinidad and Tobago at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 September. The Asians will look to get their campaign back on track when they meet first-timers Chile that same day.