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2023 Women World Cup: Super Falcons sit on knife edge after Canada draw

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This was the moment.

Football games, sometimes, are won by small margins.

And in Nigeria’s opening fixture at the 2023 Women’s World Cup against Canada on Friday morning, that moment came in the 50th minute.

Super Falcons goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie stood eyeball-to-eyeball with Christine Sinclair, who had placed the ball on the penalty spot.

The Canada captain was seeking to become the first player to score in six World Cups. She is no novice. An experienced campaigner by every account.

So was Nnadozie. The Nigerian stopper has pulled off a few penalty saves in the course of her career. And again, she dived low to her left to deny Sinclair.

When the referee’s whistle went off at full time, the scoreboard read: Canada 0 Nigeria 0.

Nnadozie was awarded Woman of the Match in what was overall a fine outing for Randy Waldrum’s ladies at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

Before the tournament, Waldrum had been involved in a very public spat with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

“In October, every country was given $960,000 from FIFA to prepare for the World Cup, where is that money?

“Up until about three weeks ago, I had been owed 14 months salary, and then they paid 7 months salary.

“We still have players that haven’t been paid since 2 years ago when we played the summer series in the USA…it is a travesty,” Waldrum said.

The American’s comments created not only off-field distractions but tension.

So it was indeed a mild surprise that it didn’t reflect in their display against the Canadians.

“I think this is a decent start for the Super Falcons,” Biola Solace-Chukwu, a podcaster and freelance sports journalist tells DAILY POST.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect they would get a point here, considering the poor preparations and chaos between the coach and NFF.

“Australia is definitely a tricky one but going by this match, I think the Super Falcons can improve on coordination especially in front of goal. What would really help would be trying to squeeze out at least one point against Australia and then beat Ireland. That’s the best bet to qualify,” he said.

Sola Oyeniyi, who is a Chief Reporter with ACL Sports, however, feels the Falcons should have been braver.

“I could see the girls playing for a draw today in the second half and this should not have been so, especially after that penalty save.

“The momentum should have shifted heavily to us and we should have capitalised on it by making attacking changes early enough because we were doing well defensively,” he hinted.

Hopefully, Waldrum has taken notes of areas to work on, as their next group game will be against Australia.

“We can only hope that they build on this, there were great moments and lost chances which should be worked on against hosts Australia which would not be easy.

“I’ll have a better opinion on their chances of qualification after the Australia game. Give them another chance to work on these mistakes today,” Latifat Adebayo-Ohio, the Team Lead at Making of Champions, tells DAILY POST.

The hosts pulled off a stirring 1-0 win over Ireland in their opener and know three points against Nigeria will see them qualify for the knockout rounds.

Oyeniyi is not optimistic about Nigeria’s chances against the Aussies, who will be without their star player, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr.

She adds: “I don’t see us beating Australia even without Sam Kerr.

“Ireland will be another tough nut to crack.

“Don’t get me wrong, we have quality players that can take us out of this group but I do not see our coach showing enough initiative that suggests we will do anything special. But fingers crossed.”

2023 Women World Cup: Super Falcons sit on knife edge after Canada draw

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