Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala and Uchechi Sunday both scored twice to send the Super Falconets into the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 semi-finals at the expense of New Zealand with a 4-1 win in wet conditions in Moncton.
Nigeria started quickly, just as Peter Dedevbo’s side did against Korea Republic in the group stage, with Oshoala scoring just 31 seconds into the game, finishing an attack that began from the kick-off. Ugo Njoku sent in an inch-perfect cross from the right in between two New Zealand defenders, and the No4 calmly headed home from six yards. It was the second-fastest goal at the U-20 Women’s World Cup, only bested by team-mate Courtney Dike’s strike 18 seconds into Nigeria’s second group stage game against the South Koreans.
With the African side clearly in charge, Oshoala doubled Nigeria’s lead 11 minutes later. Chinwendu Ihezuo sent a delightful ball into space, beating four Kiwi defenders with the pass, for Oshoala to chase down. The speedy forward took one touch towards goal and finished through the Lily Alfeld’s legs. An enthusiastic dancing celebration with Oshoala and her team-mates ensued near the corner flag.
New Zealand, who were playing in their first quarter-final at the U-20 Women’s World Cup, looked out of their comfort zone throughout the first half and were never able to trouble the Nigerian backline. After the second goal, Dedevbo’s team seemed to settle on their lead, with the action abating as both teams struggled to control possession on a rainy pitch in Moncton. It was much of the same after the break, though Emma Rolston nearly gave New Zealand a way back into the game in the 54th minute. The No14 was flicked on a hopeful long ball, which nearly caught goalkeeper Sandra Chiichii by surprise, but the keeper was ultimately able to get a hand on it.
Alfeld did well to keep the scoreline at 2-0 in the 68th minute when she tipped on to the crossbar an Uchenna Kanu shot that would otherwise would have screamed into the roof of the net. There was not much the Kiwi keeper could do, though, six minutes from time when Sunday, six yards out, blasted home from a corner kick to extend Nigeria’s lead to 3-0.
Rolston at least ensured New Zealand would not crash out of the quarter-final without the consolation of goal, beating her defender to the near post and redirecting Jasmine Pereira’s cross past Chiichii to make it 3-1 after 89 minutes. In the waning seconds, however, Nigeria restored their three-goal lead when Sunday scored her second goal in six minutes. The pacey No20 dribbled down the left, beat her defender and calmly finished past Anfeld.
Having won three games in a row, Nigeria will enter the semi-finals – and a showdown with Korea DPR – full of confidence. New Zealand, meanwhile, can head home knowing they have gone further at this U-20 Women’s World Cup than any Kiwi side before them.