Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Nina: ‘Nigerian’ out to stop Falconets

Before the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup, many outside the shores of The Netherlands had not heard the name Nina Iyobosa Nijstad, and understandably so, as the 19-year-old was not a popular name in Europe’s women football.

Her talents are undeniable though, and Nijstad made The Netherlands team to the ongoing U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

However, there is another unique fact about the teenage defender outside of the pitch and away from Europe. And it lies in another continent entirely – Africa – precisely Nigeria.


Nijstad’s middle name ‘Iyobosa’ originates from the Edo region of Nigeria and means ‘God is my helper’. The left-back was born to a Nigerian father and a Dutch mum in The Netherlands, where she was also raised.

Her club career is well underway, with the youngster turning up for SC Heerenveen in the Women’s Eredivisie, having made her debut for the side on March 12, 2021.

Now, perhaps through sheer coincidence or fate, Njistad is set for a face-off against her father’s country Nigeria in the quarter-finals of the U-20 Women’s World Cup at the Estadio Alejandro stadium in Costa Rica .

With both countries chasing a first gold medal at the tournament, there is added incentive for an entertaining display and Njidstad could be handed the unwanted role of villain should The Netherlands sink Nigeria’s hopes.

Having started two games out of three for the Oranje side, the teenager has made the left-back role hers in the competition, hardly putting a foot wrong in defence and also testing opposition keepers on occasion when the team is in ascendancy.

As delightful as the Falconets have been in the competition, exiting the group stage with a perfect result of three wins from three, they however face a tough test when they come up against Nijstad’s side.

Victories over France, South Korea, and Canada secured maximum points and the top spot in Group C for coach Chris Danjuma Musa’s side and it is the first time Nigeria will win their opening three matches in ten appearances across twenty years at the World Cup.

The Dutch girls on the other hand finished as runners-up in Group D behind defending champions Japan. At the tournament, only Spain (eight) have scored more goals than the Oranje (seven).

And with the Falconets boasting one of the meanest defences at the World Cup, an intriguing contest is on the cards at the Alejandro stadium in a battle of the immovable object and the irresistible force.

On an individual note, the battle between Nijstad and Esther Onyenezide of the Falconets will be an interesting one as Onyenezide is the second highest goalscorer with three goals, one behind Spain’s Inma Gabarro.

Will Nijstad stop Onyenezide and the Falconets from progressing to the semi-finals or will Nigeria get another chance to win gold at the U-20 Women’s World Cup?

Credit: PUNCH

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