Hosts Japan concluded the U-20 Women’s World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria to claim third place.Goals in either half from Yoko Tanaka and Asuka Nishikawa saw Japan claim a deserved win in front of a buoyant and colourful crowd at the National Stadium in Tokyo .
Nigeria started well, with Desire Oparanozie’s free-kick from the left flank evading everyone early on, including goalkeeper Sakiko Ikeda, only to ricochet off the far post and away to safety. Midway through the first half Japan opened the scoring as Tanaka let fly from distance with the ball proving too hot for Ibubeleye Whyte. The goalkeeper was unable to prevent the ball entering the goal, despite getting a hand on the effort. It was Tanaka’s sixth of the competition.
Despite Nigeria having more possession in the opening period, it was the home side which had much of the momentum as the half-time whistle blew.Five minutes after the interval Japan doubled their advantage as first-half substitute Hanae Shibata sped past several defenders just outside the penalty area, before teeing up Nishikawa with a slick short pass with the finish equally sharp.
Nigeria then collected a lifeline on 73 minutes as Oparanozie’s free-kick slipped through the hands of Ikeda and over the line.
Nigeria coach Edwin Okon said: “It was an exciting game, but unfortunately, luck was on the Japanese side. I think that Nigeria and generally speaking Africa have a bright future in women’s football. African women’s football is still improving, and we’ll see that at the next World Cup.”