By Izuchukwu Okosi
Nigeria’s Super Falconets began their campaign at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup at the Stade De Marville in Saint-Malo Stade De Marville Monday on a losing note with a 1-0 defeat to Germany.
It was the ninth time appearance for both sides with Nigeria losing finalists to the Germans in the 2010 and 2014 editions.
Stefanie Sanders tested Nigeria keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie in the fourth minute with a shot from a tight angle.
The Falconets’ head coach Christopher Danjuma added drama to the early proceedings as he bellowed instructions from the technical area.
The Nigerians proved a physical side to break down for the Germans who though had the clear cut scoring chances.
Nigeria’s Peace Efeh had a chance to put the team ahead as she latched onto a long punt in the 25th minute but she was indecisive and had the ball pinched away by the recovering German defenders.
Efeh was presented the opportunity to redeem herself in the 31st minute as she was teed up by Rasheedat Ajibade but her shot flashed wide across goal.
The combative nature of the Nigerian girls forced the Europeans to long distance shots but it ended scoreless in the first half.
With barely seven minutes into the second half both sides went close to scoring. First, Anam Imoh’s shot was blocked while Sanders twice went close.
Nigeria’s keeper Nnadozie produced another fantastic save this time to deny Janina Minge who was aiming for the top right corner with the game close to an hour played.
The Rivers Angels custodian who started out her career as a winger is beginning to show her class in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Sanders broke the deadlock in the 69th minute as he controlled and poked home after the ball came off the crossbar following a corner. The impressive Nnadozie in Nigeria goal complained about her being obstructed by Lena Oberdorf.
Efeh let fly a thunderous shot that came off the woodwork with nineteen minutes left on the clock but hurt herself in the process and required the attention of the medics. She was subbed off and replaced by Taibat Odueke.
Shortly afterwards Imoh ran onto a promising cross in the German box but her near post effort was deflected for corner by goalkeeper Vanessa Fischer.
There was another injury scare for Nigeria towards the end of the match as Grace Igboamalu went down injured, sandwiched by three Germans near the byline, but continued playing eventually to the relief of coach Danjuma.
Bashirat Amoo had Nigeria’s last chance of the match with a dipping shot that went out for goal kick.
The Falconets will face Haiti on Thursday in their second group game needing a massive win to enhance their chances of qualification to the knockout stages.