By Godwin Aikigbe
Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie pulled off a raft of brave save as Nigeria edged Haiti via a Rasheedat Ajibade penalty goal in a Group D encounter at Stade de Marville, Saint-Malo on Thursday.
Nigeria were clearly dominated by the Haitians with 13 to 8 goal attempts, 6 corner kicks and none for Nigeria and 53% to 47% ball possession.
But Nnadozie, who bagged Man of the Match award ,kept the enterprising opponents at bay, ensuring the Falconets secured a win to keep hopes of progressing from the group alive.
“It was a very tough game,” the towering goalkeeper told FIFA.com. “They were strong, but we’re strong as well. We played according to our coaches’ instructions and we did all we could. We fought until the end, were able to withstand the pressure and at the end of the match we won. I’m so happy.”
And with good reason. Her outstanding performance led to the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) handing her “Dare to Shine” Player of the Match award at the final whistle, while her team-mates also showed her their appreciation.
“After the match everybody came to me and they were very, very happy,” she said. “It was so great. They came to me, hugged me and told me how well I did. They encouraged me.”
Goal scorer, Ajibade took to Twitter to shower her with more encomiums thus: “A big big 🙌🏿to our senior goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie for a 10/10 performance today 👌🏿✨ Deserved the Player of the Match 💚🇳🇬💚 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿#U20WWC #DareToShine #Togetherwearestronger #RA08 #Team9jaStrong #womeninfootball.”
That should give Nnadozie plenty of confidence ahead of Nigeria’s decisive match against China PR. Given the Africans’ superior goal difference a draw would be enough for them to reach the next round, but the goalkeeper, who dons her gloves for Rivers Angels in her homeland, is well aware it will be no easy task.
“We have the same amount of points as China, so it’s going to be a tough match,” she said. “It’s the final match in the group stage, so we have to try our best and give everything we have. This is the final fight.”
Germany progressed to the next round after securing their second win in as many games, beating China PR 2-0 in the Group’s other game played earlier at the same venue.
The defending champions will take on Haiti at Stade de la Rabine, Vannes for the final group match on August 13 while Nigeria, who lost 1-0 to the German in their opening game, will on the same day fancy their chances of picking the group’s second ticket to the next round against China PR at Clos Gastel Stadium in Léhon.
GROUP D STANDINGS
P W D L GF GA +/- PTS
Germany 2 2 0 0 3 0 3 6
Nigeria 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 3
China 2 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3
Haiti 2 0 0 2 1 3 -2 0