The team, however, came off the pitch with a 1-1 draw in the second round, first leg of a 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup qualifying fixture.
Joy Jerry put the Nigerian ladies on the lead after 20 minutes as they struggled to cope with the biting weather and while the hosts created several chances, the scoreline stayed unchanged until the end of the first half.
A statement from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said the cold affected the Flamingos even more in the second half, which helped the Ethiopians to achieved parity in the 62nd minute with a free–kick from 35 metres that surprisingly beat goalkeeper Christian Obia.
“The weather did not help matters; even we adults were uncomfortable. You can imagine what the young ladies were going through on the pitch.
“Most of them had never gone beyond the shores of Nigeria or experienced this kind of climate before,” Abdulrafiu Yusuf, former Nigerian international and NFF’s Assistant Director (Technical), explained at the end of the encounter.
Coach Bala Nikyu started the match with Christiana Obia, Omowunmi Oshobukola, Onyinyechi Christopher, Favour Emmanuel, Esther Momoh, Fehintola Mabokanje, Yetunde Fajobi, Grace Aondoseer, Martha Vincent, Esther Onyenezide and Joy Jerry.
On the substitutes’ bench were goalkeeper Omini Oyono, Mercy Idoko, Oluchi Nnadi, Patricia Innocent, Tarnum Dooshima, Abibat Abdulgodir and Victoria Bassey.
Also reacting to the match, Nikyu said: “The weather did not help but I don’t like to give excuses for my team’s performance.
“We have to work very hard when we return to Nigeria ahead of the return leg. We must be more potent in attack and find a way to curtail the Ethiopians.”
The Flamingos’ delegation, led by former NFF board member is expected to return to Nigeria on Monday.
The return leg will take place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, the Edo State capital on Saturday, December 16.
The winner on aggregate will take on the winner of the Cameroon–Algeria fixture in the second and final round of the series after Cameroon defeated Algeria 4-0 in Algiers on Friday.
The sixth FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup finals will hold in Uruguay from November 20 to December 13, 2018.