By Sedara Oluwadara
The seventh edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals begins in India on Tuesday, with Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos saddled with one of the hardest nuts to crack, Germany, as their first opponents.
Both countries take to the Pandit Jawaharlal Stadium in Goa from 8 pm India time (4pm Nigeria time) in what is the second match of Group B, at the same time as hosts India take on the USA at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in what is the official opening match of the competition.
Earlier, as of 12.30 pm, Nigeria time, Nigeria’s group B opponents Chile and New Zealand will clash in Goa, while group A teams Morocco and Brazil also battle it out in Bhubaneswar.
The biennial competition for the world’s teenage girl-child, launched in New Zealand in 2008, did not take place in the year 2020 as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
At the last edition held in Uruguay in 2018, Germany scooped most of the individual honours, with Clàudia Pina emerging player of the tournament and Catalina Coll the best goalkeeper.
Pina also shared the top scorer’s award with Ghana’s Mukarama Abdulai, with seven goals each.
Head Coach Bankole Olowookere assured on Monday that his girls know what they are up against at the Pandit Jawaharlal Stadium on Tuesday. “We are excited to be starting the tournament by playing against one of the strongest women teams in the universe.
It is a good challenge because if you’re going to win trophies, you must beat the best teams.
“Our focus is on getting the three points at stake, which will boost our confidence for the remaining games of the group phase and going forward in the competition.
”Nigeria must avoid the quicksands that sucked them in way back in their last appearance in 2016, when they lost 0-1 to Brazil, drew with England and then got trashed by eventual champions North Korea to crash out at group stage.“Playing a strong team at the beginning should not present any apprehension.
It is an opportunity to start with your best team and best tactics, and be vigilant to utilize the opportunities and possibilities that present themselves within the 90 minutes,” Olowookere added.
After a 10-day training camp in the Turkish city of Kocaeli, and a barnstorming African qualifying campaign that saw them winning five of six matches against Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Ethiopia, Olowokeere believes his Flamingos are ready for the big duels.
The DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai is the other venue that will host matches during the competition.
After their first match of the campaign against Germany in Goa on Tuesday, Nigeria will take on 2018 World Cup bronze medallists New Zealand on Friday, 14th October also in Goa (as from 12.30pm), before flying to Bhubaneswar to take on Chile on Monday, 17th October (also as from 12.30pm).
Africa’s other representatives – Morocco and Tanzania – also have their work cut out, with Morocco playing hosts India, USA and Brazil in group A while Tanzania are up against Japan, Canada and France in group D.
Cup holders Spain head group C that also includes defending vice-champions Mexico, Colombia and China.