The Flamingoes of Nigeria were unable to break the defence of their foes as they were forced to a barren 0-0 draw against England in their second group match of the ongoing 2016 FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup.
Having lost 1-0 to Brazil in their first match of the competition, Nigeria desperately needed a win to boost their chances of making the knockout stages.
But coach Bala Nikyu’s selection gamble backfired and set his team needing the maximum three points against North Korea in their final Group match.
Three changes to his starting line-up was a bold move by the Flamingoes manager, but it failed to pay off.
Nigeria created 31 chances but failed to convert none, raising fresh concern about the team’s ability to break their goal duck in their last group match against North Korea.
Peace Efih, selected ahead of the rested Christy Ucheibe, drove the Nigeria midfield.
Mercy Omokwo was Nigeria’s biggest threat in the early stages, with one shot fired wide from Ajibade’s pass before the pair teed up Maryan Ezenagu to have a shot blocked.
Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnodozie then produced two fine saves to keep her team level – denying Russo with her legs after the forward had raced onto Hollie Olding’s long pass before producing another block from Wuben.
England were knocking on the door, but a combination of dogged Nigeria defending and the unfortunate bounce of the ball kept them searching for the breakthrough as they went in level at the interval.
Flamingoes’ luck was summed up on 53 minutes when Ijamilusi’s perfectly-struck volley was blocked by Olding, who knew nothing about the shot until it hit her.
Wasteful Flamingoes should have converted begging chances. The effort was there, but the quality – the crucial element at this level – continued to prove elusive.
Smith and her defensive team-mates were having one of those days when every block, interception and last-ditch challenge was going their way.
England were certainly helped by a succession of crosses which were meat-and-drink for their powerful centre-halves, but as the game wore on, they dropped deeper and deeper, yet continued to mount formidable resistance.
Nigeria just huffed and puffed, running out of ideas. Ezenagu missed a volley from Ajibade’s lobbed throughball and Omokwo scuffed one wide from 20 yards.
Despite the late introduction of Chidinma Okeke, the match ended in a stalemate.
Chiamaka Nnadozie, Abidemi Ibe, Catherine Kenneth, Akudo Ogbonna, Sunday Opeyemi, Happiness Titus, Peace Efih, Folashade Ijamilusi, Rasheedat Ajibade (c), Mercy Omokwo, Maryan Ezenagu
Reserves: Christiana Obia, Agatha Thompson, Patience Dike, Christy Ucheibe, Ebunoluwa Adeboye, Joy Michael, Oghenebrume Ikekhua, Chidinma Okeke, Arit Atu, Cynthia Aku
Young Lionesses Starters: England U17 Starters Vs Flamingoes: Roebuck, Hinds, Olding, Smith, Wuben, Russo, Brazil, Stanway, Patten, Cain, Scofield.
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