As the Republic of Korea and Germany contingents looked on from the stands on Sunday, Nigeria gave an ominous warning in their final 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup Group A match with a 5-0 mauling of Chile at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.
Chile finished bottom of Group A with DPR Korea and Trinidad and Tobago in second and third place, respectively. Yet the South Americans were hardly cannon fodder
Chile had slightly more possession after the first half and, even at the final whistle, they managed a respectable 48 per cent share of the ball. The difference between the two bands of teenagers lay in intent.
Goals apart, Nigeria outshot Chile by 24 attempts to five. There were 22 Nigerian shots to 14 from DPR Korea when Nigeria won their group opener 3-2, while the Africans also outgunned the host team with 23 attempts to seven on the way to a 2-1 win last Wednesday at Marabella.
The Nigerians do not mess about.
Coach Peter Dedevbo employs a 3-4-3 system that is rarely used in top-flight football as it offers little room for error and has no luxury positions. The Nigerians play man-to-man marking—if one excuses the sexual bias of the term—from back to front and harass opponents constantly.
In possession, this team does not opt for the scenic route to the opposing goal. The ball is taxied quickly to either of three speedy strikers and the charge is on.
The Republic of Korea tackle Nigeria on Thursday at Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella and, after Sundays’ 3-0 loss to Germany, the Asian outfit might feel they have already faced the tournament’s most menacing offence. But, on this evidence, Nigeria’s threat can hardly be considered inferior to anyone’s.
Germany’s strike duo of
Kyra Malinowski and Lena Petermann top the World Cup scoring charts with seven and five goals, respectively, despite being shut out by Korea on the weekend. But neither looked as irresistible, on Sunday, as Nigeria’s Loveth Ayila in full stride.
Ayila celebrated her 31-minute hat-trick against Chile by bouncing around in circles on the ball of her feet like a championship boxer.
Chile, who were four goals down by then, were certainly out for the count and Canadian referee Michelle Pye would have been tempted to accept the white towel if the South American bench had offered it.
Francisca Ordega, who nominally operates as Nigeria’s centre forward with Winifred Eyebhoria and Ayila on either side of her, opened the scoring with a poacher’s finish in the 15th minute after Chilean goalkeeper Veronica Saez parried a free kick from Nigerian playmaker Ngozi Okobi.
Ordega hit the post too in the 24th minute and, five minutes later, prompted a timely clearance from Chile’s Yocelyn Cisternas.
But Ayila, who scored the winning goal against Trinidad and Tobago’s “Soca Princesses”, reenacted her role as the “Angel of Death” in the 40th minute as she ran on to a diagonal pass and prodded tidily past the advancing Saez for the insurance item.
Six minutes after the interval, Ayila gave another display of clinical finishing from close range after being sent clear by a deft Ordega flick.
Ayila saved her best for last with a cracking left foot strike into the corner from the edge of the Chilean penalty area. Each goal showcased her clever movement off the ball and quick, decisive action once in possession.
The Koreans may consider themselves warned.
Okobi cut in from the left flank and drove the final nail into the Chilean coffin in stoppage time.
Nigeria’s passing was wayward at times while they produced less tricks and daring than their African colleagues, Ghana. But their athleticism, competitive spirit and insatiable appetite for goals should not be underestimated.
Nigeria have three wins from as many outings thus far and are favoured to maintain their perfect record on Thursday against South Korea.