Abuja, – Nigeria won their first-ever FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup bronze medals on Sunday in Mumbai after a 3-2 penalty kicks shootout win over Germany.
Both teams had started the competition against each other, with the Germans coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa.
But, this time around, in spite of coming back from three goals down, they failed to clinch a winning goal and could not succeed at the shooting range.
The Europeans, who lost through a late goal to Cup-holders Spain in Wednesday’s second semi-final, started the brighter side in this third-place match.
They had the ball in the net through Marie Steiner in the fifth minute off a cross from Laura Gloning, but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruled if offside.
Nigeria however took the lead in the 21st minute through Opeyemi Ajakaye, after she got the better of Eve Boettcher from a flowing move.
Goalkeeper Faith Omilana saved from Gloning five minutes later, while Nigeria should have been 2-0 up in time-added-on in the first half after Chidera Okenwa missed a one-on-one with Boettcher.
The Flamingos continued the second half from where they left off in the first period and were more fortunate this time.
Aminat Bello headed powerfully into the net from defender Miracle Usani’s corner kick in the 48th minute, while Edidiong Etim extended their lead only four minutes after replacing Okenwa.
But Germany fought back gamely and reduced the scoreline in the 73rd minute when Veit Jella pulled one back.
Five minutes later, Ajakaye had an opportunity to make it 4-1 but faltered.
Paulina Platiner made it 3-2 with five minutes to go and on the dot of 90 minutes, Loreen Bender tied the scoreline to compel a third penalty kicks shootout for the Flamingos.
Substitutes Blessing Sunday and Etim, and Player-of-the-Match Ajakaye scored from the spot for Nigeria, while defender Tumininu Adeshina missed.
But it did not matter as Pauliner Bartz missed a crucial kick for Germany.
Flamingos’ coach Bankole Olowookere said afterwards: “I am a very happy man that we did not leave India empty-handed.
“It has been a great tournament with a lot of lessons learnt. We give God the glory.”(NAN)