By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
USA 1999 remained the best FIFA Women’s World Cup for Super Falcons of Nigeria as the team secured their first win and also made it to the quarter-final of the tournament before dramatically losing to Brazil.
Nigeria was drawn in Group A alongside host, United States of America (USA), North Korea and Denmark.
North Korea 1-2 Nigeria
Super kicked off their third straight World Cup campaign with a slim 2-1 victory over North Korea (the team’s first win at the World Cup).
Mercy Akide scored Nigeria’s first goal in the 50th minute, then Jo Song-ok equalized for North Korea in the 74th minute. Five (5) minutes later, Rita Nwadike scored the winning goal for Nigeria.
USA 7-1 Nigeria
In Nigeria’s second group game against host, USA, Super Falcons scored the first goal of the match as early as the second minute of the match only to succumb to their heaviest world cup defeat. Ifeanyi Chiejine’s own goal started the rout before more goals from Mia Hamm,Milbrett, Lilly,Akers, and Parlow completed a comfortable win for USA.
Nigeria 2-0 Denmark
Nigeria qualified for the quarter-final for the first time in their history with a 2-0 triumph over Denmark and finished second behind group leaders, USA. Goals from Mercy Akide and Nkiru Okosieme booked Nigeria’s spot in the knockout stage.
Brazil 4-3 Nigeria
On July 1, 1999, at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Brazil beat Nigeria 4-3 in extra time after an incredible Nigeria comeback. The game was the first in FIFA Women’s World Cup history to be decided by a golden goal in extra time.
The Brazilians dominated the first half, as their star Sissi assisted the first two goals scored by Cidanha. Nene scored the third goal, as Nigeria’s goalkeeper let her long-distance shot slip through her hands (and was promptly subbed out before halftime).
However, the Brazilians came out weakly in the second half, as if they had already won and the Nigerians took advantage, dictating play and dominating the game. Three separate Nigerian players scored in the second half to even the score and send the game to extra time.
Nigeria substituted goalkeeper Ann Chiejine for Judith Chime and began pressing its attackers early in the second half. The Super Eagles scored their first goal in the 63rd minute, Prisca Emeafu taking advantage of a defensive mistake and added a second through Nkiru Okosieme’s shot off a rebound in the 72nd minute. Nkechi Egbe scored the equalizing goal for Nigeria in the 85th minute with a far-post strike from 14 yards (13 m). The goal forced sudden-death extra time, which Nigeria would play with only 10 players after forward Patience Avre was ejected in the 87th minute for receiving a second yellow card. Brazilian midfielder Sissi, who had assisted two of the first-half goals, scored the golden goal from 22 yards (20 m) in the 104th minute to win the match 4–3 for Brazil.
Nigeria lost the game while Brazil progressed to the semi-final but the fighting spirit of the Falcons showed that the team had the inner strength and exhibited the power of an African Woman.
The 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup made Nigeria enter the history books as no other African country had been able to get to the quarter-final of the World Cup ever since that epochal tournament.
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