Nigeria’s U-17 girls, the Flamingos, won their first-ever FIFA World Cup bronze medals on Sunday after a 3-2 penalty shoot-out win over Germany following a dramatic 3-3 draw in Mumbai.
Both teams started the competition playing against each other, with the Germans coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa.
In what was the second meeting between the two teams in India, Nigeria took the lead in the 21st minute through power forward Opeyemi Ajakaye, after she got the better of Eve Boettcher from a flowing move.
Goalkeeper Faith Omilana saved from Gloning five minutes later but Nigeria should have been 2-0 up in time-added-on in the first half only for Chidera Okenwa to miss 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, as Aminat Omowunmi Bello headed powerfully into the net from defender Miracle Usani’s corner kick in the 48th minute.
Then substitute Edidiong Etim, who had spent only four minutes on the pitch after she came on in place of Okenwa, scored to make it 3-0.
However, Germany, staring at annihilation, 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 shootout for the Flamingos in the knockout phase of the tournament.
In the shoot-out that ensued, substitutes Blessing Sunday and Edidiong Etim, and Player-of-the-Match Opeyemi Ajakaye scored from the spot for Nigeria. Defender Tumininu Adeshina missed but it did not matter as Pauliner Bartz missed a crucial kick for Germany.
History-making Coach Bankole Olowookere said: “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.”
Meanwhile, the Flamingos will fly back into Nigeria at noon today Tuesday, November 1.