Falconets prepare to face USA in FIFA U-20 semi final

 The Falconets say they are prepared for their match against the U.S.A.

Tunde Eludini

The Nigeria U-20 Women’s National Team-Falconets – are not leaving anything to chance as they perfect strategies for Tuesday’s make or mar clash with the United States of America.

The meeting with the ladies from the USA is one of the semi-finals of the on-going FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan.

The Edwin Okon led coaching crew are not taking anything for granted since it was through penalties that Nigeria defeated the Americans two years ago in Germany.

Reports from Japan reveal that the team mostly practiced penalties on Monday.

“Anything can happen at this stage even though we have always practiced penalties during our training sessions. But this time we felt it was pertinent to step up the tempo because of the possibility of the match going into extra time,” the Nigerian coach said at a Pre-Match Conference on Monday.

Mr. Okon who has hinged the team’s success on determination, and a renewed spirit, said most of the mistakes observed in the previous matches have been corrected.

“We had four days to work on the players’ weaknesses and strengths and l can say that the response from them has been very encouraging,” he added.

Ironically both Nigeria and the U.S.A. faced resilient opponents in their quarter final matches that went into extra time. While Nigeria won by a lone goal against Mexico, U.S.A. edged out North Korea 2-1 to move into the last four.

The U.S. ladies have been champions of two U-20 Competitions, and have been in the semi-final five out of six times; while Nigeria will be making its second, consecutive, appearance in the semi-final. Incidentally it was the Nigerian team that knocked out the Americans in the quarter final two years ago (4-2) in a penalty shoot-out after regular time ended 1-1.

Meanwhile, FIFA referee, Esther Staubli, who handled the Argentina versus Canada group match, will be in charge of Tuesday’s encounter, which will come up at 8am in Nigerian time.

A native of Switzerland, fluent in German, Staubli has been a referee since 2000, but became internationally acclaimed in 2006.


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