Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingoes scraped through to the final round of the African qualification series for the 6th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup on Saturday, but only on the away goal rule after tying 1-1 with Ethiopia on aggregate.
The saving grace was the away goal in the 1-1 draw in Addis Ababa in the first leg a forthnight earlier, as the Flamingoes were downright disappointing even with Edo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu and NFF President Amaju Pinnick seated in the VIP box.
There was no discernible pattern to the game of Bala Nikyu’s girls, and their output cried for an overhaul ahead of the final round of the series against the Cameroon U17 girls in seven weeks’ time.
Even when they managed to get into the opponents’ six-yard-box, they contrived to let the visitors off the hook. Substitute Abibat Abdulgodir was the only one who had an idea of the urgency of the day, but her deliveries from the right were wasted one after the other.
“There is a big difference between the U20 girls that we have become used to here in Benin and these U17 girls. I believe that the team will become much better with good coaching before the next round of matches,” Deputy Governor Shaibu told the media at the end.
NFF President Pinnick was glad the Flamingoes got through to the second round: “The coaches have a lot of work to do. Now that the team is in the final round, and they have some time to work on the squad, I believe they will do what is necessary to turn the team around. We use this opportunity to appreciate the Edo State Government for their tremendous support for all our women teams.”
Chairman of the NFF Women’s Football Committee, Hon. Ayo Omidiran insisted the team is work-in-progress: “The coaches have some weeks at hand to do proper work with the girls and bring in others who can help the squad. The performance today was not gratifying. But I plead with all Nigerians to continue to support all our women teams, including the U17 girls.”