Head Coach Peter Dedevbo on Sunday evening showered encomiums on his Nigeria U20 girls, even as the Falconets crashed out of the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup despite two wins out of three matches.
The Falconets’ dreams of advancing in the tournament was truncated despite a 2-1 victory over Spain that gave saw them finishing on six points as Japan and Spain.
For Dedevbo, his girls deserve all the accolades because they proved themselves worthy ambassadors of Africa’s most populous nation.
The 2014 World Cup silver medal –winning Coach noted that the girls gave their best in flying Nigeria and Africa’s flag but it was unfortunate that they were so cruelly eliminated, despite finishing with the same six points as the two other teams (Japan and Spain) that advanced to the last eight.
“Sincerely apeaking, you all are stars and I am proud of you. Despite the circumstances, you were not disgraced. We had lofty dreams of making it to the final or even going one better than we took our country in Canada four years ago, but it was not to be. Collectively and individually, we worked towards achieving that goal, but our best could not take us that far,” Dedevbo said.
The Nigerian girls flexed their muscles and fought hard before a capacity crowd at the Papua New Guinea Stadium to earn a 2-1 win over Spain. The match was played under heavy wind conditions that did not help either of the teams as they struggled in he cirumstances.
However, the joy of victory was shortlived for the Falconets as Japan’s routing of Canada in the other Group B match meant Japan and Spain advanced and Nigeria would go home. The Nigerian delegation will return home on Wednesday, 23rd November.
Meanwhile, stand-in captain and scorer of the winning goal, Chiwendu Ihezuo wept profusely after Nigeria’s early exit from the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup on Sunday.
Ihezuo, who won the FIFA Live Your Goals Player of the Match award in the win over Spain, couldn’t control her emotions as she broke down at the post match press conference.
The BIIK Zazygurt of Kazakhstan player, with two goals from three games, lamented her inability to actualize her dreams of contesting for the tournament’s golden boot. She was instrumental to Falconets’ presence in Papua New Guinea, scoring sevem goals out of the 13 Nigeria recorded during the qualifying series.
“I had high hopes for this tournament. I even set a target of six goals for myself, but my dreams have been blown away like dust in the winds. I admit that our predicament today was as a result of the six goals we conceeded against Japan. I kept hoping for a turn-around that would see us progress in the competition.
“I pushed extra hard. The consolation for my much –desired Golden Boot is this award and I am grateful to God for it,” Ihezuo sobbed.