Nigeria’a women U-20 national team, the Falconets were held to a 1-1 draw by a resilient Mexican side that gave no quarters as both sides clashed in the Canadian city of Moncton in a drab game.
Peter Dedevbo’s girls had several chances to score but it was the Mexicans who went into the lead through Fabiano Ibarra in the 23rd minute when she lobbed the ball beyond the reach of Nigeria’s goalkeeper Sandra Chichi who had wandered off her lines, beating her and one of her defenders, Ebere Okoye.
The Mexicans had threatened with a promising attack in the fourth minute which was the game’s first real test for either goalkeepers in the game but it was foiled by the Nigerian defence.
Mexico’s Nieto blazed her shot high and wide in the 7th minute much to the frustration of her coach and they were denied once again by the Nigerian defence in the 11th minute although the Nigerians had their own chance few minutes later but Chinwendu Iheazuo’s shot was blocked.
In the 13th minute, Asisat Oshoala who looked as though she could be one of the many dangerous players expected to cause the Central Americans plenty of problems side footed her shot with the net at her mercy.
The Nigerians were not alone in wasting goal scoring opportunities, it was also a problem with the Mexicans, however Loveth Ayila produced probably the game’s best moments, of at least the first half when she hit a rasping shot that was punched away for a throw-in by Santiago in goal for Mexico.
Respite came the way of the Nigerian team as the second half was coming to a close. Osarenoma Igbinova hit a speculative shot which took a slight deflection before nestling at the far bottom corner of the Mexican goal in the 42nd minute.
If Nigeria’s wasted chances at goal was anything annoying, the opportunities that presented themselves to Mexico and Nigeria in the second half and not converted by the two teams were atrocious. But the Nigerian duo of Loveth Ayila and Asisat Oshoala clearly showed hunger and desire that most of their tea mates lacked on the day.
Falconets’ goalkeeper Sandra Chichi was guilty of some ill-timed decisions in her box but lucky not to rue her hastiness in goal.
The Nigerian girls would have to work on their finishing prowess ahead of their second group game against Korea Republic on Saturday night.
The Koreans were earlier held by the same 1-1 draw by Group C opponents England, who had to come from behind to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The two draws from this group throws qualification to the knock out stages open. England will play Mexico before Nigeria’s second game of the U-20 Women’s World Cup this weekend.