Flamingoes finding their wings

It was only a few weeks ago that Nigeria’s Falconets surprised everyone by taking their place in the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010. Picking up where their elders left off, the country’s high-flying Flamingoes are charting a similar course at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010, winning their opening two matches in Group A to soar into the last eight. 

Starting out with a 3-2 victory over title holders Korea DPR, the young Nigerians followed up with a 2-1 defeat of the tournament hosts, scorelines that barely reflected their domination of both games. Adopting a 4-3-3 formation, the powerful yet cultured Africans have been in scintillating form in the Caribbean, with the likes of Ngozi Okobi, Halimatu Ayinde, Loveth Ayila and speedy forward Francisca Ordega, the scorer of two goals to date, all impressing.

“We are the favourites. To my mind we are the best team there is,” declares a beaming Ordega, speaking exclusively to FIFA.com. “It’s wonderful to be here,” adds the Bayelsa Queens forward, clearly enjoying the experience. “To be taking part in this World Cup is a fantastic opportunity and I’ll never forget everything that’s happening to me here.”

We are the favourites. To my mind we are the best team there is.
Nigeria's Francisca Ordega

The hard-working Ordega, who has been playing the game since the age of 12, sums up the tenacity and talent of this ambitious flock of Flamingoes. Aside from providing an energetic first line of defence, she is also a composed finisher, scoring her side’s second against the North Koreans and setting them on the road to victory against Trinidad and Tobago.

Though she dreams of one day meeting Thierry Henry, the Nigeria No9 has a more immediate goal to achieve: “I hope we can go as far as possible in the competition and make the people of Nigeria proud of us. We’re a disciplined and tightly knit team that’s good on the ball and we’ve definitely got what it takes to succeed.”

“It would be perfect to meet Germany in the final,” she adds, going on to explain the reasons behind her preferred choice of opponent. “They beat our big sisters in the U-20 final and they beat us 5-2 in a warm-up match for this World Cup. It would be good to set the record straight.”

Should the Nigerians fail to win their section, however, their quarter-final opponents will most likely be none other than the Germans, who are well placed to top Group B. A point from their final group match against Chile in Arima on Sunday will help the Flamingoes avoid that fate.

Yet, as Ordega vows, they fully intend to do better than that: “We are already through but we are taking this match very seriously indeed. Let me tell you again, we’ll be going flat out for the win.”