Nigeria’s Falconets defeated France in a pulsating encounter in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The game was stopped exactly on the 20-minute mark as a heavy downpour affected the players’ vision and the camera.

Up until that point, the young Nigerian girls had shown everything French coach, Sonia Haziraj mentioned as things she was wary of about the Falconets.

The Falconets’ flourishing forward, Flourish Sabastine proved a menace in the opening exchanges while the midfield anchored by Bashirat Amoo also proved an important engine.

The game resumed one hour after the suspension when the weather condition got better with a goal mouth scramble almost leading to a France goal in the 23rd minute.

In the 29th minute, France looked the more dangerous again as substitute Traore rose highest to connect a cross but her effort went inches wide.

Nigeria also threatened in the 31st minute when Deborah Abiodun flashed from wide but her effort went agonisingly wide.

The wet conditions of the pitch almost caused the Falconets to concede as they escaped another goal-mouth scramble to keep the scoreline goalless in the 39th minute.

It was a fulfilling half for the Nigerian girls who hadn’t played in any tournament leading to this competition but showed strong chemistry in their exchanges.

Mercy Idoko failed to capitalise in the 58th minute as a glorious opportunity fell to her legs. The sharp and alert French goalkeeper, Petiteau was quick to react and block from close range.

Nigerian goalkeeper, Oyono brought her calmness to bear when she saved in the 62nd minute. Joy Jerry was soon substituted for Chiamaka Okuchukwu as the game wore on.

The lively Sabastine worked her way round her marker and delivered a tantalising cross into the box but substitute Okuchukwu was late to connect as the scoreline stood goalless in the 72nd minute.

Nassi thought she had given Les Bluets the lead in the 79th minute but the referee chalked off her goal after a VAR review.

What would have been an equalizer but for the VAR became the Falconets’ winning goal as Sabastine, top scorer at the African qualifiers did her magic again.

The Falconets laid down the marker by beating one of the best teams at the competition in France and will hope to consolidate on it in other games.


By Amara

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