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NFF President urges Falconets to focus on World Cup after African Games loss to Ghana

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By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde

The President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau has urged the Nigeria national U-20 women’s team to forget about missing out on a gold medal at the 2023 African Games against the host, Ghana on Thursday.

Gusau spoke against the background of the Falconets’ 1-2 extra-time defeat by the Black Princesses in the final match of the 13th African Games women’s football event played in Cape Coast, stressing that Christopher Danjuma’s side should work towards making an impression at the next FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

“You played well and showed good skills and teamwork all the way to the final, but your best was not good enough to retain the gold medal. There is no need and there will never be any gain in crying over spilled milk. The onus is now on you and the coaches to focus on the FIFA World Cup finals coming up later this year.

“In truth, the NFF and Nigerians expected you to retain the gold medal, having scored eight goals and conceded none until the final match. That is gone now and the World Cup beckons.

“Your collective objective should be to win the World Cup trophy for the first time. The NFF will give you all the support to prepare adequately and face the world’s best in Colombia.”

The Falconets have been an ever-present side at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup since its inception in 2002.

They have qualified for this year’s tournament after beating Tanzania and Burundi in the African Qualifiers.

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“Our girls have been in the Final of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup on two occasions,” Gusau told thenff.com.

“In 2010 and 2014, though they lost on both occasions to Germany. They were in the semi-finals in Japan in 2012, and at the last edition in Costa Rica, they reached the quarter-finals.

“There has been some consistency in our performance over the years and it is time to take the step up and claim the title. That can only be done by hard work, focus, and self-belief. The hard work must start right now.”

Only five countries have laid their hands on the ultimate diadem of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup competition since it commenced in 2002: USA, Germany, DPR Korea, Japan, and Spain.

The United States won in 2002, 2008, and 2012; Germany won in 2004, 2010, and 2014; DPR Korea won in 2006 and 2016; Japan won in 2018 and; Spain won in 2022.

The Falconets have reached the final twice, losing on both occasions to Germany, and will hope to become the first African side to win the title this year from 31st – 22nd September in Colombia.