2022 Costa Rica: Nigeria’s Falconets defy downpour to defeat France in opening game

Nigeria's Falconets defy downpour to defeat France

In their first game at the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup, Nigeria’s Falconets defeated France’s Little Blues despite heavy rain in Costa Rica.

Sabastine Flourish, who was in fine form, scored a beautiful goal in the 85th minute to give Nigeria a one-nil victory over a resolute French team in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Coach Chris Danjuma’s team got out to a strong start and caused some concern for the Europeans as the rain intensified on the field, making it difficult for players and officials to see. In the 20th minute, center referee Francia Gonzales was compelled to halt play because of the weather. But after an hour, the game was restarted.

Less than ten minutes after the restart, the French side had to head off the ball from the goal as the Falconets continued to surge forward. While no side was able to score in the first half, the second half was an even stiffer competition.

Both teams defended and attacked with resoluteness in the quest for the opening goal. France were to benefit from a goalmouth scramble in the 80th minute. Substitute Jade Nassi’s goal after a corner kick from the European did not, however, count after it was overruled by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for a foul on the Nigerian goalkeeper Oyoyo Omini.

As the game flowed from end to end and both sides looking for a late goal, the 2014 runners-up took the lead with just five minutes to normal time. Flourish, who was the highest goalscorer in the African qualification series, finished off a defence-splitting pass from Mercy Idoko to send the ball past goalkeeper Marie-Morgane Sieber.

With the win, a victory over Korea DPR in Nigeria’s second match on Sunday will guarantee the Africans a slot in the quarter-finals of the competition.

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