African women’s effort to reach World Cup semis brought to naught

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With Nigeria’s 3-2 loss to France in the quarter-final of the current FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup Chile on Sunday, Africa’s two representatives in the competition have now been eliminated.

The Democratic Republic of Congo did not make it past the group stage, where it ended up without a point in Group C.

Though the Falconets of Nigeria led their group, with seven points, and advanced to the quarter-finals, they lost to France despite leading 2-1 in the first half.

France scored first through Julie Machart in the second minute while Nigeria equalised 11 minutes later with a goal by Ebere Orji.

Nigeria went ahead thanks to a Joy Jegede strike in the 38th to lead 2-1 at the interval, but the French women fought back in the second half, when they equalised in the 49th through Eugenia Le Sommer before Nora Pelagie sealed it for the Europeans.

Observers said Nigeria lost because its first choice goalkeeper, Marbel Egwuenu, broke her clavicle in the 12th minute and was replaced by Charity John.

No African team has ever made it to the semi-final of a FIFA-organised female competition.

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