BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA.
Following the draw for the France 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in which the Nigerian side, Falconets will face Germany, China and Haiti, Ann Chiejine, the pioneer goalkeeper of Nigeria’s Women national team has advised the Nigerian team not to be intimidated by the profile of Germany and China.
The Nigerian side met the German side in the 2010 final match which the Germans hosted and won 2-0.
According to the former goalkeeper who apart from taking up acting roles in Nollywood home video series has also become a coach, “the Falconets have what it takes to win the tournament that is holding from August 5 to 24.”
She remarked that the time has come for the Nigerian side to go for the title having been runners-up in 2010.
At the Draw Ceremony held inside the Opera House, Rennes on Thursday, the Nigerian team will be competing in Group D. The other African flag bearers, Ghana were thrown into the same Group A as hosts France, New Zealand and The Netherlands.
Group B is headed by Korea DPR and also has England, Mexico and Brazil, while USA, Japan, Paraguay and Spain will battle it out in Group C.
Two –time runners –up Falconets begin their campaign with a huge test, against Germany at the Stade de Marville in Saint-Malo on Monday, 6th August. Germany edged Nigeria to lift the trophy the two times Nigeria got to the championship final – in 2010 in Germany and 2014 in Canada.
Chris Danjuma’s maidens will then be up against Haiti three days later at the same venue, before moving to Dinan-Léhon, where they play China at the Stade du Clos Gastel on Monday, 13th August.
Ghana will go up against hosts France in the tournament’s opening match in Vannes on Sunday, 5th August. Concarneau is the other city that will host matches during the championship.
Nigeria’s Group D opponents Haiti will be taking part in their first –ever FIFA women’s tournament, and FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura said: “I’d like to send my regards and warmly congratulate Haiti, who just qualified for their first-ever FIFA women’s tournament, on their remarkable road to France. Well done, girls, for taking this huge step.
“It’s so encouraging to see these young girls pointing the way forward through playing football. For FIFA, increasing the participation of women in football is an imperative. The development of women’s football is at the top of our list of priorities in our strategy ‘FIFA 2.0: The Vision for Future’.” France will also host the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.