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U17 Women's World Cup

U17 World Cup: Nigeria recover from semis heartbreak and beat Germany to win bronze

17:27 GMT+3 30/10/2022
Nigeria U17 women team in India.
Nigeria have clinched bronze at the U-17 World Cup after beating Germany in the third-place playoff in India on Sunday following a 3-3 draw.
  • Nigeria were dominant in first half
  • Germany recovered from three goals down to draw 3-3
  • Loreen Bender’s 90th-minute equaliser forced the contest to be decided by spot kicks

WHAT HAPPENED? Despite allowing Germany to fight back from 3-0 down, Nigeria emerged winners after a 3-2 victory in the post-match penalties.

Blessing Sunday, Edidiong Etim, and Opeyemi Ajakaye scored Nigeria’s penalties, while Tumininu Adeshina’s effort was saved.

Jella Veit and Mathilde Janzen scored Germany’s two penalties, while Paulina Platner and Bender sent their efforts wide. Faith Omilana saved Paulina Bartz’s penalty to ensure the Africans finished third in the competition.

Meanwhile, the Flamingos were more ambitious from the first whistle and almost grabbed an opener in the fourth minute.

Amina Bello attempted a long-range strike but the German goalkeeper, Eve Boettcher, gathered the ball as Nigeria’s first attempt on goal failed to bear fruit.

However, in the fifth minute, the European side managed to score, but their goal did not stand. After a VAR check, it was cancelled as it was established there was a foul on Flamingos goalkeeper Omilana.

The African nation managed to register an opener in the 20th minute with a strike from Ajakaye. Two minutes later, they almost doubled their lead, but Bello could not find the back of the net with an open chance.

Coach Bankole Olowookere made a change in the 43rd minute with Comfort Folorunsho coming out and Sunday coming on before eight minutes were added after the regulation time of the first half.

The Africans returned from the break rejuvenated and claimed the second in the 48th minute when Bello found the back of the net with a well-timed header.

German could hardly contain their attacking opponents and, in the 63rd minute, they conceded again. Edidiong – who had replaced Chidera Okenwa in the 59th minute – was the scorer of the third goal for the Flamingos.

Jella Veit – with a backheeled effort in a crowded area - scored in the 73rd minute to deny Nigeria a clean sheet.

Germany scored the second in the 84th minute through Bartz. Initially, the goal was disallowed for offside, but that decision was overturned after a VAR check.

In the late stages of the second half, Germany were dominant and equalized in the 90th minute against the back-pedalling Nigerian girls. After an initial sumptuous strike hit the post, Bender’s overhead kick flew ferociously past Omilana.

The late resurgence by the Germans, however, did not stop Nigeria, who emerged as victors after the tense encounter in Mumbai.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Nigeria were left to contest for bronze after they were eliminated by Colombia in the semi-finals.

Colombia, who will face Spain in the final, advanced after beating the Flamingos in another shootout.

Meanwhile, the achievement by the youngsters has begun to lift the Nigerian national spirit after the senior men failed to win a ticket to the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

ALL EYES ON: This is the best performance by the Nigerian girls in the competition, as they have never been in the last four in their history.

THE VERDICT: Unlike how they tackled Colombia, Nigeria were not disjointed against Germany. They launched well-coordinated attacks and were solid, especially in midfield.

WHAT NEXT FOR NIGERIA? After reaching the semis for the first time, the U17s are expected to fight hard and advance further in the next edition.