The Super Falcons on Thursday qualified as one of the best losers to the round of 16 after finishing third in Group A behind France and Norway but had to endure a torrid time before confirming their place in the last 16 of the event.
A 3-0 win for Chile over Thailand would have ended the Falcons desires of qualification but having led 2-0, the South Americans lost a penalty late on in dramatic fashion to hand the Nigerians a spot in the knockout stage.
Nigerians were almost left frustrated after Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses beat New Zealand 2-1, which means they (Falcons) had to slip from 1/3 on the quality third-placed groups table, to fourth.
The Falcons have reached the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup just once before now, a quarter-final appearance in the competition in the United States in 1999.
The African champions ended their Group A campaign with three points, courtesy of a 2-0 win over Korea Republic and losses to former champions Norway (3-0) and hosts France (1-0).
But they had to wait three days later after their final group game on Monday to know their fate.
Cameroon also qualified as one of the third best-placed teams, thus making it the first time two Africans will reach the knockout stages of the competition.
With Brazil, China and Cameroon already qualified as the three best third-placed teams, the Nigerians were hoping Chile failed to beat Thailand by a three-goal advantage in Rennes.
The Super Falcons will now face European powerhouse Germany on the 22nd of June for a place in the quarter-finals.