A Nigerian defensive blunder in extra time enabled Germany to regain the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Montreal last Sunday night.
The game’s only goal was recorded in the 98th minute when defender Gladys Abasi was stripped of the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box by Pauline Bremer, whose pass in the penalty area resulted in Lena Petermann breaking the deadlock.
Despite dominating the match for lengthy periods, Nigeria failed to make the breakthrough and become the first team other than three-time winners Germany, the United States and 2006 champions the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to lift the trophy since the tournament started 12 years ago.
“We had enough opportunities to win this match in the first half alone,” said Nigeria’s coach, Peter Dedevbo. “But while we had chances and didn’t take them, Germany had one chance and took it. That’s the nature of soccer.”
Nigeria drew 1-1 with Mexico and defeated the Republic of Korea and England 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals for the fifth consecutive time. The West Africans overwhelmed New Zealand 4-1 and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 6-2 to advance to the final.
Nigerian striker, Asisat Oshoala, won the Golden Boot Award for being the tournament’s top goal scorer with seven and the Adidas Golden Ball Most Valuable Player Award.
Canada, which committed 35 fouls and was shown three yellow cards in four matches, won the FIFA Fair Play Award.
Meanwhile, Confederation of African Soccer president, Issa Hayatou, is calling for tougher sanctions after a Cameroon player died in hospital after being struck in the head by a stone thrown from the crowd in an Algerian league match last weekend.
Jeunesse Sportive de Kabylie striker, Albert Ebosse, who scored his team’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to USM Alger, was hit as the players left the field.
“African soccer cannot be the breeding ground for hooliganism,” said Hayatou. “We expect exemplary sanctions to be taken against this grave act of violence which has no place in African soccer in particular and sports in general. We remain resolute and state in the strongest terms our determination to eradicate all forms of violence and unsportsmanlike conduct in stadiums on the continent.”
Ebosse, 24, was the leading goal scorer in the Algerian league in 2013-14 with 17 goals.
Algerian soccer league president, Mahfoud Kerbadj, who was at the match, said the player’s death was “a catastrophe for national soccer”.
“Something unfortunate cost the life of a young player who, in the space of one season, won the hearts of thousands of Algerians in all stadiums in Algeria,” he said.
In other soccer news, four-time Africa Soccer Player of the Year Samuel Eto’o is among 13 Cameroon players who went to the World Cup this summer in Brazil and was dropped for forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Eto’o, 33, is Cameroon’s all-time leading scorer with 56 goals and third most capped player with 118 appearances in 17 years.
Cameroon lost all three of its first round matches in the World Cup to Mexico, Croatia and host country Brazil, conceding nine goals while scoring just one.
“I think after this World Cup, there was no choice,” said coach Volker Finke. “We have to change. That means we also have to change the spirit of the team and the mentality of the players.”
Finke said he was looking for youths with potential and is keen to give Cameroon-based players a chance to prove their worth.
“This is the moment now we have to make a break because there are 16 or 17 players who just played at a World Cup for a second time, having played in 2010 and now 2014,” he said. “Both times, there were performances we could not accept. They were not good performances. This is why this is the moment that it has to change.”
Cameroon will travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo for its next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on September 6 before hosting Ivory Coast four days later.