U17 World Cup: Nigeria face Germany again for third place after losing 6:5 on penalties to Colombia

Nigerian player marked by two Colombian players

Nigeria failed to progress to the U17 Women's World Cup final after a 6-5 penalty shootout loss to Colombia in Goa, India.

WHAT HAPPENED? The Flamingos saw two of their penalties – taken by Josephine Edafe and Comfort Folorunsho - saved while Edet Offiong, Edidiong Etim, Miracle Usani, Shakirat Oyinlola, and Taiwo Afolabi scored.

Colombia claimed the victory after successful conversions made by Gabriela Rodriguez, Stefania Perlaza, Mary Alvarez, Linda Caicedo, Juana Ortegon, and Mary Espitaleta, while Yesica Munoz missed.

Meanwhile, Nigeria started the game much more threatening, but Colombia – after overcoming the instability witnessed in the early stages of the game – recovered and managed to keep the opponents at bay.

The South Americans could have easily grabbed an opener in the 27th minute after Folorunsho failed to clear a threat and gave Orianna Quintero a chance to score, but the forward shot over the bar.

Another chance for Colombia went unconverted after Caicedo delivered a cut-back, but Munoz could not find the back of the net inside the box as a stretched Nigeria defence breathed a sigh of relief in the 40th minute.

The West Africans survived a late first-half threat when Colombia made their way past the backline, and although Rodriguez finally scored, the goal was ruled out for offside.

After surviving from going down courtesy of the offside flag, the Flamingos launched a counter-attack, but Colombia equally dealt with the challenge before both teams headed back to the tunnel for the half-time break.

A good recovery by Oyinlola saw Nigeria escape another danger after they lost the ball in the midfield. Munoz broke through after winning the ball in midfield but was not given space to shoot past Faith Omilana – who left her area in an attempt to close in on the free opponent – as Oyinlola cleared the ball in the 49th minute.

There was a nervy moment in Colombia’s area in the 55th minute when they could not deal with a freekick delivered from the left wing. Bisola Mosaku took advantage of the miscommunication by their opponent’s backline, but her shot was blocked by goalkeeper Ana Guzman.

Omilana came to the rescue of Nigerians once again when she repelled a shot from Caicedo, who easily found a way past a disjointed defence in the 73rd minute.

With penalties in mind, Linda Jiwuaku – who was Nigeria’s penalty shootout hero against the USA - was brought in for Omilana in the 90th minute, but the tactical change did not prevent Colombia from advancing.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: After going down 2-1 in their opening match against Germany in Group B, Bankole Olowookere’s girls recovered to beat New Zealand and Chile and finished as runners-up.

In the quarters, they showed character and saw off the United States of America after a 4-3 victory in the post-match penalty shoot.

Colombia – who reached the last four for the first time in their history – navigated past Mexico, Spain, and China in the group stage before beating Tanzania in the quarters to book a date with the Flamingos.

ALL EYES ON: Nigeria have never been past the quarter-final stage in the previous editions and their performance in India in this year’s edition is thus an improvement.

THE VERDICT: The Flamingos’ technical bench needs to work on how the girls react to counter-attacks and being pressed by opponents.

The South Americans exposed the West Africans on a number of occasions during counter-attacks, and the Nigerians were lucky not to concede during such moments in both halves.

They also looked disjointed in most parts of the showdown, and Colombians should blame themselves for not taking advantage of their creativity.

WHAT NEXT FOR NIGERIA: The Flamingos now will contest a third-place playoff against either Germany, which beat the 2:1 in the opening match in the group stage.
~Courtesy, Goal

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