With some fans still yet to take their seats in the Moncton Stadium, Nigeria’s Courtney Dike latched onto the ball just outside the Korea Republic six-yard box, saw a gap, set her sights and sent a low shot inside the far post – putting her team ahead after only 18 seconds of play.
Eventually coming away with a hard-earned 2-1 win, the three points put the Super Falconets two clear at the top of Group C here at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014, with one game remaining.
“Wow! Was it really the fastest goal in the competition’s history? That’s crazy!” said the young striker, after being given the news by FIFA.com. “It all happened so fast, even for me to be honest,” she went on incredulously, a broad smile still lighting up her face.
“The ball came to me in the box and, well, they always say it’s good to test the opposing keeper early in a match, so I had a shot and in it went!” she continued. “It all happened so quickly, it hit a defender, I picked up the ball and scored, right? I honestly only remember seeing that I had space and went for a shot.”
Indeed, her second U-20 Women’s World Cup appearance and first as a starter could barely have begun better. “This gives me loads of confidence,” said the forward, who plays for Oklahoma State University in the USA. “Now I’m just hoping to keep playing and keep improving alongside the rest of the team. I’m very happy to be here and I hope we can go a long way.”
Though Courtney will surely have received a host of congratulatory messages since the game, few will have pleased her as much as the one from her older brother Bright. A senior Nigeria international and striker for MLS outfit Toronto FC, he wasted no time in taking to Twitter to hail his younger sibling’s feat.
Congrats to my sister @CourtneyDike getting her first goal for Nigeria and the fastest U20 World Cup goal in history #DikeFamilyKillingIt
“We’ve not managed to see each other yet, but we did speak before the tournament and he’s always giving me tips and advice,” said Courtney, before boarding the coach back to the team hotel. “It’s great to be able to learn from him, from any mistakes he’s made. He’s the example I try to follow. He’s a striker too but well, we’re all strikers at home! My family’s really proud of us all,” she added with a grin, noting that her two brothers, two sisters and father have all played football at one time or another.
What’s more, as her older brother missed out on selection for the Super Eagles at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ due to an Achilles tendon injury, Courtney has taken the lead in terms of global tournament experience and is determined to keep the Canadian adventure going for some time yet.
“This win against South Korea was crucial, because everything was very tight after the draws on the opening match-day,” said Dike, before signing off with a look ahead to the final group match for coach Peter Dedevbo’s charges. “In our next game against England, I’m expecting the team to fight just as hard. I’m convinced that, if we play as well as we did today, we’ll win again.”