AS the Nigerian U-17 women team, Flamingoes, prepares for its quarter-final cracker against France on Thursday, the Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Musa Ahmadu, has advised the girls to approach the match with caution.
The Flamingoes ended its campaign two years ago in Trinidad and Tobago at the quarter-final stage. But having made it to the quarter-final in Azerbaijan this year, the girls believe they have what it takes to win the trophy.
However, the NFF scribe has cautioned that Thursday’s game against France must be handled with proper care. The match will take place in the city of Baku, where Nigeria played its first group match with Canada and last game against Colombia, which it won 3-0.
Speaking with The Guardian over the weekend, Ahmadu said the Flamingoes has made the soccer house proud so far: “They have done well so far, but it will be better if they can make it to the final and possibly win the trophy for Africa,” he said. “But they have to be very careful with France in the quarterfinal.”
Ahmadu also commended the Ghana U-17 girls for beating their Chinese counterparts 2-0 in their last group game to hit the quarter-finals. In that match, the Chinese needed a draw to advance while the Ghanaians needed a win, which they got.
The third African representative, The Gambia, could not survive the group stage, as it conceded a total of 27 goals – the highest in the competition. The Group A of the tourney belonged to Africa and CONCACAF, and Nigeria and Canada grabbed the two qualification slots for the quarters.
A plucky Colombia side fought all the way in the bid to reach the knockout phase for the first time but had to settle for third, while host, Azerbaijan, recovered from heavy defeats in its two opening games to show Canada that it was on the right track.
Tied on seven points with Canada, but possessing a superior goal difference, the Nigerians combined pace and power throughout and showed their strength in racking up an 11-0 win over the Azeris, the joint-highest of the group phases.
Meanwhile, defender Sarah Nnodim says the Flamingoes would beat France on Thursday: “We lost our quarter-final match in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010 because of a lack of concentration and experience,” she said.
“We’re ready for this tournament, though, and we feel we’re ready to win the trophy and that we’re capable of doing it.”
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Beware of France, NFF cautions Flamingoes