Up Nigeria! The U-20 Nigeria Women’s National Team defeated the United States 4-2 in penalty kicks yesterday during FIFA’s U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010, which is currently being played in Germany, earning themselves a spot in the semifinals of the tournament.
The U.S. Women had previously defeated Nigeria on four occasions (Three times in full Women’s side World Cups, once in the Olympics, but have never met in youth football [source]). Now Nigeria has added one to their win tally in this matchup on the Women’s side. From FIFA.com:
Nigeria won a dramatic penalty shootout to claim a place in the semi-finals at the end of an enthralling struggle in Augsburg with the score tied at 1-1 after extra-time. Ironically it was USA’s golden girl Sydney Leroux who missed with their fourth penalty to seal the African side’s 4-2 victory, US captain Christine Nairn having seen her attempt saved as well. The African side scored with all four attempts.
It was a notable triumph for the Falconets who had never before won a quarter-final in a FIFA womens competition and who had faltered at the last-eight stage on three previous occasions in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Ndem Egan’s team had been overrun in the second half but found their feet and plundered a magnificent equaliser through Helen Ukaonu late on. They now face Colombia in Thursday’s semi-final in Bielefeld in what is a major surprise with USA the defending champions and the most successful team in the history of the competition.
Nigerian footballer, Helen Ukaonu, was even credited with the “Goal of the Day”:
USA 1-1 Nigeria, Helen Ukaonu, 79 mins
With the USA leading 1-0 and keeper Bianca Henninger dealing comfortably with everything thrown at her, it looked like the end of the road for the ambitious Nigerians. However, with just over ten minutes left on the clock, up stepped Ukaonu to crash a searing drive into the top corner from all of 25 metres. It was to be the beginning of the end of the defending champions.
Congratulations to the Nigerian Women U-20 team! Much success in the next match.