Few teams are as experienced in this tournament as Nigeria, who will be playing in their sixth FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. They have appeared in the knockout stage in the last four events, reaching a historic peak two years ago in Germany where they made their way to the final after going undefeated through five matches. A 2-0 defeat against the hosts in the ultimate match was no shock, but it left the Falconets hungry to become the first African nation to win a FIFA Women's World Cup.
With a policy of finding and promoting young talent, Nigeria were a team with relative experience at the highest level two years ago. Their domination of women's qualifying in Africa at both U-17 and U-20 levels means there are many players in the mix with time on the World Cup pitch under their belts. That helped them deal with a number of close matches in Germany, and the Falconets expect to have similar confidence in Japan. Inspired to think big by coach Edwin Okon, Nigeria can call on the deadly two-pronged attack of Orji Ebere and Desire Oparanozie. Those familiar faces are joined by budding national team prospect Francisca Ordega as well as U-17 goal-scoring hero Ngozi Okobi.
Ambitious enough to see the continental preliminaries as a warm-up for the autumn finals, Nigeria blitzed past 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup participants Congo DR 7-0 on aggregate over two legs in the final qualifying round. There are a number of players with full national team experience, and captain Gloria Ofoegbu will look to solidify a team heavy on attack-minded talent. Top scorer in qualifying with four goals, Ordega is another name to add to the list of dangerous players the west Africans will bring to the Pacific rim.
Facts and Figures
Cynthia Uwak (2006), Stella Godwin (2006), Rita Chikwelu (2008), Orji Ebere (2010), Desire Oparanozie (2010)
Gloria Ofoegbu (defence), Esther Sunday (midfield), Desire Oparanozie (forward), Ebere Orji (forward)
13 – The number of goals that Nigeria scored in four matches in African qualifying. They beat Zimbabwe 6-0 in the first round before defeating Congo DR.