With the group stage done and dusted after 16 teams battled it out in 24 group-stage matches, played across Navi Mumbai, Bhubaneswar and Goa, there are now just eight sides left standing. Nigeria’s Flamingos are set to face off with the United States in one of the quarterfinal matches on October 21th.
Nigeria made it to the knockout round after finishing as Group B runner-up following two wins and a loss in three games. The Flamingos claimed a narrow 2-1 win over Chile on Monday, with goals from Blessing Emmanuel and Bisola Musaku overshadowing Tali Rovner’s stoppage-time penalty. The West Africans had earlier brushed past New Zealand (4-0) to recover from an opening-day defeat to Germany (2-1).
The US, on the other hand, emerged as Group A winners with seven points earned from two victories and a draw. They embarrassed host India 8-0 and drew 1-1 with Brazil before forcing a 4-0 humble pie down the throat of Morocco.
“We’ve got the right recipe,” said USA coach Natalie Astrain after her side progression. “We’re using all these different ingredients and trying to put together a nice little menu. That menu has proved a delight so far judging from their exploits in the tournament scoring thirteen goals and conceding just one. This group is breaking a lot of records, but it’s not only about numbers; I’m very proud of the way they play,” the coach said in a statement following the match against Morocco. “It’s really enjoyable to see them try combinations, be brave and never give up. Records aside, that’s what really makes me happy.”
Nigeria and the United States have never met at this level, but the 2008 World Cup runner-up will be favourites against Africa’s best u17 national team. The Flamingos have never progressed beyond the quarterfinals stage of the Mundial, getting knocked out at that stage in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The Americans are also hunting for a first title triumph at the World Cup. Either team will secure a semifinal berth with a win at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Friday, October 21.