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2023 WWC: Nigeria Face Uphill Task in Round of 16 Vs England – Prompt News

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2023 WWC: Nigeria Face Uphill Task in Round of 16 Vs England – Prompt News


By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau

The Super Falcons will face their toughest test yet in the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand when Nigeria meets the reigning European champions England in the Round of 16 tie at Lang Park, Brisbane on Monday, July 7.

The Three Lionesses thrashed  hapless China 6-1 to finish top of Group D on Tuesday to set up an interesting fixture against the Super Falcons who finished in the second place in Group B behind Australia after Nigeria and Republic of Ireland played out a barren draw in Brisbane. 

The Round of 16 encounter involving the European and African nations next Monday will be the first-ever meeting between Nigeria and England, two countries that have contrasting fortunes so far in the competition with England winning three of her group games and scoring goals with reckless abandon. 

After edging Haiti  and Denmark in the first two group matches by just lone goal each, England went goals-crazy on Tuesday by  hammering China  Peoples Republic 6-1 with goals from Allesia Russo-4′, Lauren Hemp-25′, Lauren James-41′, 65′, Chloe Kelly-77′ and Rachel Daly 84′ while China’s lone goal came from Wang Shuang 57′.

The result ensured that England garnered the maximum nine points in the group stage and with an average of 2.1 goals par match so far, England’s goal-scoring form is a big threat to Nigeria’s further progression in the competition.

Still basking in the euphoria of winning the UEFA Women’s Championship for the first time on home soil in 2022 and the UEFA-CONMEBOL Finalissima

Gold medal for the  first time in 2023 after England beat Brazil in London under the guidance of Dutch football tactician, Sarina Wiegman, the Three Lionesses will pose a big obstacles to Super Falcons next Monday. 

The current England team in Australia and New Zealand boasts of  many highly technical players starting with Manchester United  goalkeeper Mary Earps; defenders  Lucy Bronze of FC Barcelona and Millie Bright of Chelsea FC who is England’s intrim captain as well as midfielders Gerogia Stanway of Bayern Munich and Ella Toone of Manchester United who have scored 32 goals for England between them.

The team also has Lauren James of Chelsea FC who has scored three goals in two matches in Australia and other  attackers who have scored many goals for the England team in the past. They include attackers Rachel Daly (14 goals), Lauren Hemp (11 goals), Allesia Russo (12 goals), Bethany England (11 goals) and Chloe Kelly (7 goals) respectively.

The last time out, Sarina Wiegman’s side thrashed China 6-1 in their final group game on Tuesday with Lauren James grabbing a brace for England in the encounter.

Chloe Kelly, Alessia Ruso, Lauren Hemp and Rachel Daly were the other goal scorers for England in the game.

However, the match will provide another opportunity for Super Falcons  to prove to Nigerians that the 3-2 victory over Australia and two draws with Canada and Republic of Ireland in Group B were not a pretence. 

So far, the nine-time African champions have not tasted defeat in Australia and the epic encounter with European powerhouse at Lang Park, Brisbane on Monday, July 7, will be a litmus test for Super Falcons Head Coach, Randy Waldrum’s technical and tactical abilities when faced with a tougher opponents than the three in the group stage. 

On paper, Nigeria should not fear England because the Africans are participating in their nine FIFA Women’s World Cup final, three more than England that is taking part in her six edition. 

Also, Nigeria possess quality players in FC Barcelona star Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade of Atletico Madrid, and Toni Payne of Sevilla FC, all based in Spain; defenders Ashleigh Plumptre of Leicester City, England) and  Michelle Alozie of Houston Dash, USA as well as well energetic midfielders Christy Ucheibe of SL Benfica, Portugal and Halimat Ayinde of Rosengard FC, Sweden.

Nigeria also has a reliable goalkeeper in Chiamaka Nnadozie of Paris FC, France; attackers Uchenna Kanu of Racing Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Ifeoma Onumonu of New York /New Jersey Gotham FC, USA) and Esther Okoronkwo of AS Saint-Etienne, France.

It is on record that Nigeria played several quality international friendly matches under Waldrum prior to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the benefits of these pre-World Cup matches will be known at the end of the competition. 

Some of the international matches Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) arranged for the Super Falcons to prepare the team ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. They include the underlisted: Tour of Texas in 2021 with matches against Team USA, Jamaica and Portugal.

Again, Nigeria embarked on Tour of Washington in 2022 for two games with Team and later travelled went on Tour of Canada in the same 2022 to play two matches against reigning Olympic champions Canada in two Canadian cities.  READ ALSO:

Super Falcons later ended the year with another international friendly with former  FIFA Women’s World Cup champions Japan on October 6, 2022 in Kobe with Nigeria losing most of the high profile matches played abroad. 

To ensure that Nigeria performs better than the last outing in the Mundial, Super Falcons took part in the Revelation Cup in Leon, Mexico in February 2023. Nigeria   Costa Rica,  Colombia, Haiti and host Mexico. 

Nigeria rounded off her pre-tournament international matches on April 11, 2023 in Turkey with a 3-0 thrashing of New Zealand. Goals from captain Onome Ebi (34′); forward Jennifer Echegini (49′) and veteran striker Desire Oparanozie (90’+4′).

The hope of over  200 million Nigerians at home and diaspora will depend on the Super Falcons’ skills, athletism and the technical and tactical abilities of Waldrum to beat England on Monday to reach the quarter-final stage to equal the record created by the Super Falcons Class of 1999 in the United States of America (USA).

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