Colombia 2024: Falconets brush aside Tanzania to reach final round

Goals by Janet Akekoromowei and Comfort Folorunsho against Tanzania at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja on Sunday gave Nigeria a 2-1 win and progress to the final round of qualifiers for the 2024 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals.

After a gloomy afternoon for Nigerian ball fans following the Super Eagles’ disappointing 1-1 draw with the Warriors of Zimbabwe in neutral Rwanda in the race to 2026 FIFA World Cup finals, the Falconets gave the fans something to smile about as they edged their Tanzanian counterparts 3-2 on aggregate to reach the final round, where they will take on Burundi’s U20 girls.

The 2022 World Cup quarter-finalists, who have never been absent from the global finals, swarmed on the visitors from the first blast of the whistle, but poor marksmanship on the part of former U17 team striker Opeyemi Ajakaye robbed them of an early goal.

Akekoromowei eventually put Nigeria in front after 16 minutes, when she rifled home from the edge of the box after an intelligent pass from Taiwo Afolabi.

Five minutes later, the East Africans were at parity, when goalkeeper Shukura Bakare dropped the ball from an innocuous-looking free-kick 35 yards out and Jamila Mnunduka bundled the ball over the line.

Nigeria would have been ahead in the 25th minute, but defender Shukurat Oladipo’s well-struck free-kick from 40 yards was parried away by goalkeeper Zulfa Ally Makau. Ajakaye failed to make hay with another opportunity in the 33rd minute.

On the hour mark, defender Comfort Folorunsho broke the spell of 1-1draws for Nigeria’s national teams in recent weeks, when she leapt highest to head home from Afolabi’s cross after a couple of touches from a corner kick.

The Falconets will now take on Burundi in the final round of qualifiers, to determine one of Africa’s flagbearers at next year’s global championship to be hosted by Colombia.