After qualifying for Canada 2002, Thailand 2004 and Russia 2006, the Falconets made it four in a row by securing their place at Chile 2008. Although they were knocked out at the group stages in Canada and Russia, Nigeria went one step further at Thailand 2004. A 1-0 defeat against eventual finalists China PR, followed by a 2-1 victory over Brazil and a 1-1 draw against Italy were enough to earn them a place in the quarter-finals. There, they were narrowly beaten by winners Germany in a penalty shootout (5-4) after the match had ended 1-1.
Nigeria's fine recent form in the qualifiers will be a source of confidence ahead of the finals. Their preliminary round opponents Congo withdrew from competition, and Nigeria saw off neighbours Cameroon 4-0 on aggregate in the next stage. In the second and final African qualifying round, the Falconets came from two goals down away to Ghana to win 3-2 after a virtuoso second-half display that showcased all their talent. Their 2-0 victory in the return leg was a mere formality.
The Falconets will be counting on the experience gained at previous tournaments, especially Thailand 2004, to get them through the group stage. Coach Dan Evumena, who knows his squad is not lacking in quality or togetherness, has all the resources needed to take the Falconets to the quarter-finals at least.
Facts and figures
Orji Ebere, Sarah Michael and Rebecca Kalu
With Ghana leading them 2-0 at half-time in the first-leg of their African qualifying decider, Nigeria turned the tables on the Black Princesses, securing their place in Chile with three second-half goals.
The numbers game
4 - Nigeria have taken part in all four FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup tournaments played to date.
Cynthia Uwak (2006), Maureen Eke (2006)
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