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It’s crunch time for Falconets as China comes calling

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[FILE] Nigeria’s Rasheedat Ajibade celebrates after scoring during the Women World Cup U20 football match Haiti against Nigeria on August 9, 2018 at the Marville stadium in Saint-Malo, north-western France. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

To be or not to be, that is the question Nigeria’s national U-20 women team, Falconets must answer as they confront China in their last group game of the on-going FIFA U-20 Women World Cup in Dinan/Léhon, France today.

Both teams have three points apiece with the Falconets above the Asians on the log on goals difference.

The teams have two things in common: They lost their matches against table toppers, Germany and defeated whipping girls, Haiti to set up today’s must win game.

Reports from Nigeria’s camp in France say the Falconets are upbeat for the game against the Chinese at the Stade de Clos Gastel.

“It is going to be a very busy encounter from the first blast of the whistle. We are not expecting an easy match. I said from the beginning that if we must reach the Final, we have to play and overcome very tough teams.

“We have no illusions. The Chinese squad is a very ambitious one, and we have to be at our best to overcome them. We will go out there and give our very best,” Coach Chris Danjuma told thenff.com.

A draw would be sufficient for Nigeria to advance and so the Falconets know that the Chinese would come at them for the victory, which is the only way they would overtake Nigeria for the second round ticket.

Nigeria’s hope for goals rests on Rasheedat Ajibade, who scored the country’s winner against Haiti from the spot in the last game.

She was the highest goal scorer in the African qualifying series. Supported by Anam Imo, Chidinma Okeke and Peace Efih, Ajibade is expected to lead the team to a sublime performance.

While their colleagues are foraging for goals upfield, Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie and the defenceline manned by Sunday Opeyemi, Mary Ologbosere, Glory Ogbonna and Oluwakemi Famuditi is expected to keep the Asians at bay.

Nnadozie has been Nigeria’s revelation of this tournament so far; pulling off a number of magnificent saves against 2010 and 2014 champions Germany and against the Haitians. She was rewarded with the ‘Dare To Dream’ Player of the Match gong against the Haitians. This was a player who was down the pecking order during the African qualifying series, when Onyinyechukwu Okeke held sway in goal.


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