For a brief moment, it sounded as if the Nigeria fans at Komaba Stadium in Saitama were about to break into a spontaneous rendition of a John Lennon classic. "All we are saying…" they sang, but instead of asking their audience to give peace a chance, they went on to plead for something else altogether. Goals. And lots of them if possible.
The 200-strong Nigerian contingent in the stands were simply borrowing from the former Beatle to help spur the Falconets on to victory against Korea Republic in their opening fixture at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Japan 2012. That musical touch worked too, as the African contenders promptly kicked off their Group B campaign with a 2-0 win.
"It's true that they're always asking for more goals," Ngozi Okobi told FIFA.com afterwards, the No10 having struck her side's first goal. "But that's a song we use a lot in our country. Whenever we hear it, we feel right at home, though I was still very surprised by how many Nigerian supporters there were in the stadium. That helped us a lot."
I think this team is stronger than in 2010. We have very good players in every department, good goalkeepers and lots of girls who can make the difference.
The support of those fans – Nigerians living in Saitama or Tokyo – could well prove pivotal again as Okobi and Co are desperate to fare better than their predecessors managed at Germany 2010, when they stumbled at the last hurdle and finished runners-up. To go one step further in Japan will require plenty of self-confidence, but, judging by the early press conferences of coach Okon Edwin, Nigeria are far from lacking in that respect.
"I think this team is stronger than in 2010," explained Okobi, echoing the sentiments of her coach. "We have very good players in every department, good goalkeepers and lots of girls who can make the difference. We started well by scoring two goals, and we're high on confidence for the rest of the competition."
'Brazil are strong, but so are Nigeria'
Okobi certainly tends to perform well against Korea Republic. Two years ago, the gifted midfielder struck twice in an incredible FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup quarter-final between the two teams, which their Asian rivals finally won 6-5 after extra time. Sunday's triumph in Saitama will have felt all the more satisfying as a result, and the perfect way to get started at Japan 2012.
The 18-year-old is now determined to continue impressing on the global stage as she strives to realise an ambitous dream. Okobi would love nothing more than to build a career as rich as that of Perpetua Nkwocha, star of Nigeria's senior women's team, and she will get a superb opportunity to display her talents against Brazil on Wednesday.
The reigning South American champions are likely to pose the Falconets a far sterner challenge than their previous opponents, and will be desperate to prevail after beginning their own tournament with a 1-1 draw against Italy. Okobi did not watch that game, but she knows all about the quality in the Brazilian ranks. Even so, she positively radiates with confidence when asked how her side will do. "Brazil are strong, but so are Nigeria," she said. "The best team will win and I've got a feeling the best team will be Nigeria."