THE DAY REPLAYED – Nigeria and France overcame New Zealand and Korea Republic respectively to book the last two places in the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014.
Coach Peter Dedevbo’s team were the embodiment of efficiency and strength in their game against New Zealand. The Falconets took a 2-0 lead inside just 12 minutes and used the rest of the match to reinforce their superiority. The West African side now face their third successive semi-final at this tournament after Germany 2010 and Japan 2012.
The competition’s Asian teams are proving to be formidable opponents. After Korea DPR knocked defending champions USA out of the tournament, France also struggled against Korea Republic in the last quarter-final game. Penalties were needed to decide the result after 120 goalless minutes.
Nigeria 4-1 New Zealand
France 0-0 Korea Republic (aet., France win 4-3 on penalties)
Goal of the day
Nigeria 2-0 New Zealand, Asisat Oshoala (12’)
The Nigerian No4 was unstoppable in the match against New Zealand, scoring her team’s opener before finding the net again just a few minutes later. Chinwendu Ihezuo sent a long ball forward to Oshoala, who then accelerated towards goal and cleverly wrong-footed her opponent before sinking the ball past the helpless goalkeeper and into the New Zealand net from short range.
Scoring in a hurry
If there is one team that has been particularly hasty about scoring goals at this U-20 Women’s World Cup, it is Nigeria. During the group stages, the Falconets scored against Korea Republic after just 18.071 seconds – the fastest goal in the tournament’s history – before getting off to a similarly brisk start against New Zealand. The referee had barely signalled the start of the match before the ball nestled in the net for the first time. This time Oshoala managed to score after 32 seconds, giving her the second-fastest strike in the history of the competition.
Durand’s double save
The second half of France’s encounter with Korea Republic was just a few minutes old when Solene Durand made her mark on the game. Marine Dafeur gave away a penalty after felling Lee Geummin in the penalty box. Lee Sodam stepped up to convert the spot-kick but could not get past Durand, who dived to her right and parried the ball clear before quickly climbing back to her feet to stop Namgung Yeji’s follow-up shot.
Stability vs. rotation
The strength of the French squad is clear when you look at the minutes played by each member. All of Les Bleuettes’ players have now featured except for third-choice goalkeeper Deborah Garcia. Griedge MBock Bathy is the only Frenchwoman to have started and completed every minute of her team’s games in the tournament. Meanwhile, the situation within the Korea Republic squad is very different. Coach Jong Songchon opted for stability, retaining the same starting line-up throughout apart from Park Yeeun, who was forced to miss the game after picking up two yellow cards.
Capturing the moment
While Nigeria’s players danced around and celebrated with fans after sealing their passage to the semi-final, coach Dedevbo chose a more unusual way to express his joy: rolling around the pitch with a broad grin on his face. Determined not to miss out, Patience Okaeme recorded it all on a video camera to ensure the moment was immortalised forever.
700 – It seems almost as if Nigeria had planned to reach this special landmark at Canada 2014. By scoring in the 90th minute, Uchechi Sunday notched her country’s 700th goal at an U-20 Women’s World Cup.
“I’m very satisfied with what we achieved, and now I’m ready for North Korea. I know their team, I know their coach, and I want to beat them at all costs,” Peter Dedevbo, Nigeria coach
Wednesday 20 August 2014 (all times local)
Semi-finals (Moncton and Montreal)
Korea DPR – Nigeria, 17.00
Germany – France, 19.00