We fear no foe, says Onyenezide, Falconets’ goal heroine
‘We’ll adapt to every game’
For large spells against South Korea, Nigeria dominated the play, but the Asians forged better chances in the game, reports soccernet.ng.
Goalkeeper Omini Oyono made a string of excellent saves to keep the scoreline at 0-0 until Esther Onyenezide struck with venom in the 81st minute to give Nigeria the lead and ultimately, the match winner.
While the Super Falcons dominated in the midfield, they lacked the final ball in attacking areas, the defensive pairing of Oluwatosin Demehin and Omowunmi Oshobukola stood solid in the centre half positions, while Jumoke Alani and Rofiat Imuran added balance in the full-back positions.
The Falconets defence marshalled by Demehin stood solid and repelled many of the Koreans attacking forays before Onyenezide’s suckerpunch.
Coach of the side, Chris Danjuma, explained why the team appeared to sit deep in their games, revealing it is to block some leakages and set a trap for the opposition.
Danjuma told NFF TV after the game that his tactics were premised on his team’s strengths, the importance of the game and quality of the opposition.
“Football is about building your own tactics as it suits you. Playing against a Korean team, if they find space, they run and there are certain areas of the pitch they use to make incursion into your box so all we need to do is get persons to take the responsibility of making sure they don’t come through that area,” he said.
On why the team employs a deep defensive structure, Danjuma said: “You know it’s easy to say ‘why don’t they go forward?’ Holistically, you might say the whole team can go forward but I spot a weak link and I want to make sure we don’t go forward, lose the ball and it becomes a counter against us and when we lose, so better we play deep… I mean, it wasn’t a deep thing per se, maybe always see them playing deep, it was to get the ball in those areas, see how the goal comes and attack the Koreans.
“It’s a trap we’re setting. Get the ball, we come, consider the last one Chiamaka got a foul, it’s a trap.”
MEANWHILE, Esther Onyenezide is confident Nigeria can overcome any challenge at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women World Cup currently going on in Costa Rica.
The Nigeria U-20 girls have won two matches played at the tournament so far, beating France on Friday and South Korea on Sunday by identical 1-0 scorelines.
While Flourish Sabastine grabbed the winner against the French, Onyenezide was the match decider against the Koreans.
The Falconets have sealed a quarterfinal ticket, even with the last group match against Canada still to play.
Tougher challenges await in the next phase, with three-time winners, Germany, and U.S., defending champions, Japan and European giants, Netherlands, still in the race.
But Onyenezide, 19, is not perturbed by the bigwigs.
The Falconets’ number eight draws confidence from the team’s remarkable run during qualification. Nigeria did not lose a qualifying match – home or away – winning six of seven played and drawing the other in Cameroun.
Onyenezide insists that the Falconets will not cower before any team in Costa Rica, no matter the pedigree.
“We are a giant in Africa and fear no other team,” Onyenezide said (via BBC).
“We’ve trained an unbelievable amount and if you look back at qualifying, then we’ve every right to be confident out here whenever we play.
“We want to show the world that we’re not just big in African terms, but that we can beat any other team.”
The Falconets next face Canada in their last group C match slated for Thursday morning. The Canadians have already been eliminated after consecutive defeats to South Korea and France.
Nigeria has never won the competition, but were runners-up on two different occasions.