Football fans in Abuja hailed the victory of Nigeria’s Flamingos over their U.S. counterparts in the ongoing U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.
The enthusiasts said that the National Women’s victory over the highly-rated U.S. team was indeed a new dawn for female football in Nigeria.
Nigeria reached the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup semi-finals for the first time on Friday when the Flamingos beat the U.S. in the quarter-finals of the 2022 competition.
The Flamingos kept their nerves to defeat the U.S. 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in a pulsating quarter-final match in Navi Mumbai.
A cross-section of football stakeholders said the victory was a sign of better things to come for the country’s football.
Gbenga Elegbeleye, a former Director-General of the National Sports Commission, said the victory was a good omen and a step in the right direction for the team.
“Credit to the young girls for their effort and this unprecedented victory.
“We all saw how difficult it was. It definitely wasn’t an easy feat by the Flamingos.
“I congratulate Nigerians and I feel that the victory is a good one and an important hurdle and test for the girls.
“We have secured a place in the semifinals and something tells me there’s more to come from this ambitious team.
Elegbeleye, who is also a former Vice-Chairman of the Youth and Sports Development Committee of the House of Representatives, remarked that it was good to see that the women were championing the revival of sports in the country.
“In a year when women have brought a lot of joy and pride to the country, it is good to see this generation of young girls follow in the steps of the older sports personalities.
“It can only get better for them from here, henceforth and I am confident that this team can go ahead to dominate Africa and the world in the other age-grade tournaments in future,” he said.
Aminu Kurfi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Task Force on Youth Competitions, said the girls showed a strong will and determination to succeed against all odds.
“The Flamingos have indeed made me as well as all Nigerians so proud after defeating the highly-rated U.S. team who were runners up in 2008.
“We will continue to pray and encourage the team as much as we can to enable them to achieve their high and lofty dreams.
“The coach said before the tournament that he was going to India to cause a lot of upsets and I am glad he is living up to his words.
“I see them reaching the finals and hopefully winning the cup for the very first time in the history of the tournament,” Kurfi said.
Also, Mouktar Mohammed, the FCT Football Association Chairman, said the victory for the Flamingos was a good sign and a stepping stone for all the country’s various age-grade teams to bounce back to the top reckoning.
Mohammed, who is also a member of the three-man panel appointed by the NFF to oversee the preparations of Nigeria’s age-grade teams for crucial international tournaments, said the dream of the new NFF Leadership was already being actualised.
“Kudos to the Flamingos on this historic achievement.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time than now when the new NFF Board has made its intention clear on football grassroots development.
“I wish to personally commend the NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau, for this initiative to re-energise the age-grade team through the task force.
“Nigeria Football must again lay special emphasis on development as well as international exposure through these teams.
“As a panel, we are ready to lead this revival to international glory for our youth teams.
“Having said that, I am confident that the Flamingos will build on this victory and continue to do the country proud by defeating either Colombia or Tanzania in the semifinals and reaching the finals of the world cup,” he said.
Godwin Bamigboye, the Interim National Coordinator of the Association of Football Administrators in Nigeria (AFAN), said the girls had done the impossible and created history.
“Congratulations to Coach Bankole Olowookere and his girls for finally breaking the jinx after so many years of struggles and failures.
“Nobody gave this young team any chance against an ‘Almighty’ U.S. team, especially after they faltered in their first game against Germany and managed a scrappy 2-1 victory against Chile in their final group game,” Bamigboye said.