Head Coach of the U-17 Women National Team, Bala Nikyu has picked Azerbaijan 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup silver boot winner, Chiwendu Ihezuo and 20 other players to represent Nigeria at this year’s finals starting in Costa Rica on Saturday.
There are also Joy Bokiri, Aminat Yakubu, Uchenna Kanu, Ugochi Emenayo, Mary Ologbosere, Patience Dike and Tessy Biahwo. Ihezuo, who will captain the squad as Nigeria searches for first-ever triumph in the cadet competition that was inaugurated in New Zealand in 2008, scored six goals at the last tournament in Azerbaijan to finish second top-scorer, behind North Korea’s RiUn-Sim.
Just as happened in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010, when Korea Republic, which eliminated Nigeria after a pulsating quarter final match that went into extra time, went ahead to lift the trophy, France won the trophy in Azerbaijan two years ago after defeating Nigeria on penalties in the quarter finals.
However, Coach Nikyu is confident his girls have prepared well enough to go all the way, after a 19-day final training camp in Faro, Portugal that saw the team win all friendly matches bar one – the 0-0 draw with Belgium’s U-17 Women National Team in Brussels on March 4.
Ihezuo scored five goals when the Flamingoes humiliated hosts Azerbaijan 11-0 in a group phase match in 2012. The Nigerian girls flew out of Frankfurt, Germany on Wednesday to arrive in San Jose, capital city of Costa Rica, on Thursday morning. They play their first match against China on Sunday, with other group phase games against Colombia and Mexico to follow on March 19 and 23 respectively.
Joy Bokiri, Aminat Yakubu, Uchenna Kanu, Rasheedat Ajibade, Fubiana Briggs, Ugochi Emenayo, Ihuoma Onyebuchi, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Onyinye Okeke, Tessy Biahwo, Ayomide Anibaba, Joy Duru, Cynthia Aku, Mary Ologbosere, Faith Alex, Olubunmi Elijah, Vivian Ikechukwu, Augustar Mene, Patience Dike, Mercy Vincent, Desire Ijeh.