In U-20 Women’s World Cup final rematch with Germany, Nigeria has chance to join world’s elite

Jeff Kassouf August 23, 2014 11
Asisat Oshoala currently leads the U-20 Women's World Cup with seven goals in five matches. (Getty Images)

Asisat Oshoala currently leads the U-20 Women’s World Cup with seven goals in five matches. (Getty Images)

MONTREAL, Canada – Sitting high above Montreal’s city center, Nigeria U-20 women’s national team coach Peter Dedevbo was all business.

He stood stiffly next to the World Cup trophy for the media photo opportunity, not wanting to get too close to it. Nigeria has been that close before, and failed to touch it.

On Sunday Dedevbo’s team will play Germany in the World Cup final for the second time in three tournaments. Nigeria lost both matches, first in the 2004 quarterfinals – when this was a U-19 competition – and then in the 2010 final on German soil.

Dedevbo describes that 2010 loss as “woeful,” and although he wasn’t the coach then, he wants to avenge that defeat on Sunday at Olympic Stadium.

“We are hungry. We want to try as hard as possible to redeem the image of 2010,” he said on Saturday. “We know Germany is a very good team. We respect them; I want them to respect us, too.”

Dedevbo sounds like a man with a point to prove, but asked to follow-up on his pointed comment about earning respect, he backtracked, saying the final is just like any other match. Clearly, though, Nigeria sees this as a statement match; they could become the first African team to win a Women’s World Cup at any age level.

[MORE: Complete coverage of the FIFA 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup]

Germany has been here before, winning it twice (both years in which they faced Nigeria in the knockout stage). This is Maren Meinert’s fifth straight U-20 World Cup in charge of Germany, an anomaly of stability in the youth ranks.

As always, she’s guided her team through a tough path. Success here is nothing new, having led Germany to third in 2008 and second in 2012 in addition to the 2010 triumph.

“I’m extremely satisfied,” she told FIFA.com. “I think we’re having a great tournament. Especially when you look at our path through the competition. In the USA, China, Brazil, hosts Canada and France, who might be the best team in the world at the moment, we’ve played some great teams. Nigeria are another.”

Meinert’s squad is led by a two-headed attacking monster of Pauline Bremer and Sara Daebritz, who have five goals apiece.

But world-class German forwards – on the verge of regular minutes with the senior side – lighting up the U-20 World Cup is nothing new, either. Dzsenifer Marozsan did it in 2012, and Alexandra Popp in 2010.

What Germany must worry about is Nigeria’s big threat, Asisat Oshoala. She leads the all scorers in the tournament with seven goals in five matches.

“In this competition the Germans have faced very strong teams; the Nigerians are one of them,” Meinert said Saturday, sitting next to Dedevbo. “Oshoala, we know that we have a tough match ahead of us and we need our defense to be strong and compact in order to win.”

Oshoala, nicknamed “Seedorf” (after the footballing great Clarence Seedorf) and “Superzee” (SuperGirl), has come up through the ranks thanks to the Nigerian federation’s investment in women’s soccer, Dedevbo says.

Dedevbo says there are academies “in every center in Nigeria,” and that he has been working with some of his current players, including Oshoala for four or five years.

“In Africa, in terms of women’s football development, Nigeria is No. 1, because we have [professional league] and there are three competitions for women’s football,” Dedevbo said. “The teams that play pro in Nigeria, they have academies.”

“In Nigeria, we don’t joke with the women’s football budget.”

Nigeria has appeared in all seven U-20 Women’s World Cups, all three U-17 Women’s World Cups, and all six senior Women’s World Cups. The Falconets have never won any of the competitions.

On Sunday, they’ll look to finish the job and join Germany, among a select few, as one of the world’s elite.

  • Rdalford

    Looking forward to this Nigeria v Gernany U-20 WWC final. Odds may favor Germany but Oshoala and Nigeria have been playing with a wonderful combination of skill, speed, and creatiive joy making it easy to cheer for Nigeria.

    • Steglitz49

      It would be good for women’s soccer for Nigeria to win.

      • Elaine

        And to think Nigeria almost didn’t even make it to the tournament thanks to the politics.

        • Steglitz49

          In many ways I would have preferred Ghana in the final to Nigeria, but it is good with an African team in the final.

        • AusFan

          Completely forgot about that! Nigeria have been progressively getting better this tournament. Although they have the typical defensive frailties that plague African teams (I say that as an African supporter) they have managed, however, to not concede. Attacking wise they are spectacular. The semi final pounding of a DPR Korea team that I saw live was very impressive.

          My worry is Germany is just a cut above. Germany should really have gone out in the semi final stage if not for the Goalkeeper of the Tournament (elect) Meike Kemper. Feel that Nigeria would have had a better chance against France in what would have been a more open match. Expect Germany to lock this match down and win 1, maybe 2-0. Either way looking forward to it although conflicted.

          • Tom F

            Germany has a young team with several players like Bremer who could play again in the next u20 wc. It’s no where near as strong as their last 2 teams, but still good enough to win this tourney, especially if their vaunted ‘gegenpressing’ causes enough turn overs around the Nigerian defensive end. If it don’t, Nigeria should have the speed to not only keep the ball on Germany’s end, but also go 1v1 vs the slower German defenders.
            Watch for the Germans super sub, Linda Dallmann, I honestly think she’s their best player, yet she only comes in the 2nd half the raise havoc after the opposing team is looking exhausted.

          • AusFan

            We should be coaches! Pretty close to how this match played out. Feel for Nigeria, they went out to win it and nearly did.

      • weltherrscher

        why, win nigeria?
        germany win the u 20 wwc 2014
        germanys mens a-team world champion 2014, the u 19 men european champion 2014 and the u 20 women world champion 2014.
        the year 2014 is very very nice for the german football.

        • Steglitz49

          PR. Just as it was good for Japan to win WC-11.

          What was noticed at this years Swimming Euros? Federica Pelligrini winning the 200m relay for Italy in the last meters and Ottesen besting Sjöström by 0.01 sec. Was it fair? It was good for women’s swimming.

  • Stephen

    I really don’t know what to expect from this match. Germany had problems with their defence for the whole tournament, espacially Wilde didn’t look good. The Nigerians have excellent forwards, who, unlike the French, score when they get the chance. But Germany has a top class keeper for the age, while the 16 year old Nigerian keeper looks really uncertain when high balls come into the box. That could be Germanys way of winning the match, since they were quite good with corner kicks so far. Excited to see how this will turn out! A goal fest from both sides, like the Germany-China match, a one sided, or really close match? Let’s see!

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