The 1999 FIFA World Cup was the third edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the third time Nigeria would feature in the global competition.
In previous editions of the championship, FIFA maintained a 12-team format. However, in 1999, the championship was improved to accommodate 16 teams, with Africa producing two representatives (Ghana, Nigeria) for the first time in the tournament history.
It was also surprisingly the first time match officials were selected from Nigeria to represent the continent. Bola Elizabeth Abidoye and Omoleye Adeyemi Adeola were the Nigerian officials that made the cut.
1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup
The Super Falcons were grouped alongside tournament host, United States, North Korea and Denmark in Group A of the World Cup.
Although this was not the country’s first dance at the World Cup, the nation had never won a game. The best the team had done before the 1999 tournament, was a 3-3 draw against Canada in Sweden 1995.
Nigeria recorded her first FIFA Women’s World Cup win against Korea DPR, in a riveting 1-2 encounter at the Rose Bowl, Los Angeles.
The first half ended goalless with both sides pulling every trick in their box to get on the front foot in the game.
The Koreans were the favorites to win the match, hence their determination to prove their worth against the Nigerian team. Unbeknownst to them, luck was about to finally shine on the Falcons after five world cup defeats.
Mercy Akide gave Nigeria a much needed leap in the 50th minute via a brilliant strike that flew past Kye Yong-Sun.
The Koreans retaliated in the 74th minute as JO Song Ok placed the ball beyond the reach of Nigeria goalie, Ann Chiejine.
Five minutes later, Rita Nwadike put Nigeria ahead with a brilliantly calculated strike.
The Koreans could not come back from this, handing the Falcons their first ever victory at the Women’s World Cup.
Featured image source: FIFA.com