By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau will be at the forefront of the support group when the country’s U-17 girls, Flamingos tackle Colombia in the semi-finals of this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Goa today.
The NFF boss, who has spoken with the players and officials severally during their earlier games in the tournament, will physically witness the semi-final showdown at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa. It is the first semi-final, starting at 4pm (12noon Nigerian time) with the second semi-final between Germany and Spain to kick off three-and-half hours later.
Victory over Colombia – who defeated the only other African team to make the knockout stage, Tanzania 3-0 in the last eight – will shoot the Flamingos into Sunday’s final.
The Flamingos’ odyssey in India has had an uncanny resemblance to that of the Nigeria U20 girls, Falconets in Germany 12 years ago, at least from the quarter-final stage.
In 2010, in what was the first international tournament for any Nigeria team under the presidency of Alhaji Aminu Maigari, the Falconets had beaten the United States 4-2 in a penalty shootout in a FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup quarter-final after both teams tied 1-1 in regulation time in Augsburg.
Four days later, a 2nd minute goal by Ebere Orji at the Bielefelder Alm in the city of Bielefeld condemned Colombia to defeat in the semi final, and the Falconets squared up to Germany in the final.
The Flamingos are the first Nigeria team to be involved in a tournament during the presidency of Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau. They have beaten the United States in a penalty shootout after 1-1 draw in a World Cup quarter-final, and now await Colombia in the semi-finals.
It is also remarkable that Germany, Nigeria’s opponents in the final in Germany 12 years ago, are also in the semi-finals in India. They play Spain in the second semi-final on Wednesday.