Nigeria completed a stellar group stage at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on Wednesday with the Falconets’ 3-1 victory over Canada clinching their status as winners of Group C. Nigeria end group play with a perfect record and will face Netherlands on Sunday in the quarterfinals. Netherlands secured their spot in the knockout stages by defeating Ghana 4-1, ending the Black Princesses’ participation with three losses from three matches in a difficult Group D for Africa’s other representative at the competition.
For the Falconets it was a fitting end to the group stage for a team who showed resilience and took advantage of their opportunities. Esther Onyenezide converted two penalty kicks to win her second straight Woman of the Match award and Chioma Olise finished up the scoring for Nigeria after Canada opened the scoring inside two minutes. Nigeria goalkeeper Monle Oyono attempted to play out from the back but her pass attempt came back off Canada’s Kaila Novak and into the empty net.
However the Nigerian side surged back in the first half with Onyenezide finishing calmly from the spot to level in the 24th minute after a handball in the penalty area. A foul in the area soon after led to another penalty kick for Nigeria and Onyenezide delivered, sending Canadian goalkeeper Anna Karpenko the wrong way to put the Falconets in the lead. Olise clinched the Nigerian victory late on in second half stoppage time by finishing from close range off a Rofiat Imuran cross.
On the other hand for Ghana it was always going to be difficult considering their draw and the Netherlands ended any slight hopes the Black Princesses had at advancing to the final eight by winning 4-1. Liz Rijsbergen put the favorites ahead in the first half and Ziva Henry made it a two-goal lead soon after the halftime break. Doris Boaduwaa ensured Ghana did not leave the tournament goalless with an excellent curled finish in the 53rd minute but Rijsbergen soon restored Netherlands’ two-goal advantage and the European side converted a penalty kick late on for a decisive victory.
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