President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau on Thursday challenged the U17 Girls, Flamingos to put their defeat to Germany behind them and go all out for three points when they take the pitch against their New Zealand counterparts Friday afternoon at the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in India.
Africa’s best team took the lead against European champions Germany on Tuesday but fell to two second half goals that has rendered their remaining encounters in the group phase, against New Zealand and Chile, must-win.
‘I spoke to the girls after the match against Germany to cheer them up, and I have spoken to them and their officials today for them to appreciate the enormity of the task before them, because the NFF and indeed, all Nigerians, want them to proceed to the knock-out stages. They must work hard at converting their opportunities. They must play to their strengths and do the best they can to emasculate the opposition.
‘A good win against New Zealand will be a great confidence-booster for the team going into the crunch encounter with Chile on Monday.’
New Zealand will not be easy meat, as the girls from Down Under took the bronze medals at the 2018 World Cup finals in Uruguay – the only finals Nigeria have missed in the history of the tournament.
Incidentally, New Zealand hosted the very first edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, 28th October – 16 November 2008. It is a long way from those finals, when hosts New Zealand exited the competition at group stage after losses to Canada and Denmark, and a win over Colombia.
Nigeria’s Flamingos suffered similar fate, after a 2-1 win over South Korea and 1-0 loss to England in Wellington, and a 2-2 draw with Brazil in Christchurch.
Following their 1-2 defeat by Germany and New Zealand’s 1-3 loss to Chile, the Zealanders presently prop up the group B. Nigeria is third, but could go to second place ahead of the final matches of the pool if they overpower New Zealand by two goals and Germany overcome Chile in the second match at the same Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The encounter between Nigeria and New Zealand will kick off at 4.30pm India time (12.30pm Nigeria time).