Striker Chinwe Ihezuo scored a hat-trick for the Nigeria’s U-17 women squad to edge past tough Spanish Sporting Huelva for a 3-2 victory in an international friendly in Portugal on Wednesday.
The coach Bala Nkiyu-tutored girls stated their resilience as they pull through for another victory despite their Spanish opponent’s coming back twice from the dead at the Browns Hotel football arena in Faro, Portugal.
The Nigerian ladies continued their impressive run in a 19-day training tour in Portugal ahead of the FIFA U-17 women World Cup Finals in Costa Rica from March 15 to April 5.
Pelican Stars’ forward, Chinwe Ihezuo, who was outstanding in the encounter, put the Nigeria U-17 girls in front with her breakthrough in the 13th minute and doubled the lead five minutes from the break.
The Flamingoes’ lead was reduced in the 43rd minute when the Spanish side pulled one back to keep the score line 2-1 at half time in favour of Nigeria.
However, the Spanish visitors powered home the second goal five minute into the second half through forward Martin Prieto as they held out to deny the Nigerian side any victory.
Disappointingly, Sporting Huelva met their awful moment when the unstoppable Azerbaijan 2012 Silver Boot winner surged past the Spanish club side’s defence to secure the much-expected winner and her hat trick of the day.
Speaking after the game, Chinwe Ihezuo reaffirmed her resolve to help the Flamingoes to reach the grand finale of the Costa Rica U-17 FIFA World Cup Tournament.
On meeting the expectations of Nigerians, the Pelican Stars’ attacker promised that she and her teammates were fully prepared and battle ready to take on any side in the world championship as a formidable force.
In his post match reaction, head coach of the Nigeria U-17 girls, Bala Nkiyu, commended the Nigerian ladies for their resilience, while admitting that the encounter was tough. However, he stated that they were prepared to take on the rest of the world in Costa Rica.
“I am happy with the performance of the ladies. We had a good test against the Spanish club and gave a good account of ourselves – there are many positives although we have some areas we will continue to improve on and get stronger.
“The 16 teams in the competition won’t field angels or prophets as we are preparing like this. So, for the World Cup, I think we are prepared,” Nkiyu enthused.