After leaving co-hosts, Australia, in shock to take a step in the round of 16 stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Nigeria’s Super Falcons held an already eliminated Irish side at the Brisbane Stadium to cement their slot in the tournament.
Anticipations were high, a period of emotional rollercoaster for the African giants as all eyes were staged on them from all corners of the over 52,000-capacity stadium with hopes of carrying the continent on their shoulders to the promised land.
Indeed, the Super Falcons survived the test of the Irish who were rated 22nd on FIFA’s rankings, to record a total of three appearances in the last 16 stages of the world party.
The performance of the Super Falcons in this year’s tournament comes as an improvement following what happened during their 2019 campaign.
The Green and White ladies managed to advance to the round of 16 stage on a ticket of being among the best four losers in the competition with three points to break the over-20 years hunger of making it to the knockout stage.
Randy Waldrum, Head Coach of the Super Falcons has been on top of his game, sneaking out of a group that was classified as the group of death with Canada, Australia, Ireland, and Nigeria.
In his recent interviews, he has sent words of caution to the other participants not to underestimate his squad, referencing the game against Australia as evidence of how eager he is to grab the trophy.
His approach going into every game has so far been commendable, making sure he gets his opponents caught up in his attacking and high pressing trap to accomplish his mission.
Ahead of the clash against Canada, the gaffer said “If you get to this point, you just must play in the elements, whatever they are, we are at the World Cup, so our players have to be mentally ready to play.
My girls are prepared, and they understand the game plan too.”
He said he was pressured going into the tournament, same as his players but it was important to focus on the game to achieve success.
With the inclusion of Uchenna Kanu, Desire Oparanozie, and five-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala in the squad, it was evident that the champions were poised to pull a shock at the Mundial.
Nigeria despite coming into their opening game against a stubborn Canadian side, were poised to give the side a tough assignment to begin their campaign successfully despite being tagged as underdogs.
It was Oshoala who kept the defense of Canada busy with her skillful play and quick runs giving Canada a bit of what she is known for.
The Olympic Champions nearly took the lead in the 50th minute but the effort of Christine Sinclair was not enough as Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie kept her lines safe, completing the game with a cleansheet which saw Nigeria share spoils with their opponents.
The nine-time African champions continued their group stage battle with a shocking 3-1 victory over Australia with Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala dominating play to get his side ready for their final clash against Ireland which ended 0-0 as Nigeria finished second in Group B.
Tagged as the most successful side on the African continent, Nigeria will come face to face against European Champions, England who would be difficult to overcome following their records in previous years.
Hoping to break their 1999 World Cup history, Nigeria is on the verge of conquering the world with South Africa and Morocco who have all booked places to the next round.
Africa now has three of four countries who made it to the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is a positive start towards glory.
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