The Super Falcons’ journey in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will kick off on July 21 by 3:30 am Nigerian time as they take on Canada at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Despite it being Nigeria’s sixth appearance Women’s World Cup, past performances have not seen them achieve remarkable success. The Super Falcons’ best result came in 1999 when they reached the quarterfinals, a feat they hope to surpass in this year’s competition.
Under the leadership of American gaffer, Randy Waldrum, the Nigerian team has experienced some ups and downs, but they appear to have gained momentum leading up to the tournament. Three consecutive victories in friendlies have boosted their confidence, setting them on the right track to begin their campaign.
Canada, led by Bev Priestman, is also determined to progress from the challenging group. Women’s football is thriving in the North American nation, as they have become a regular presence on football’s grandest stage, making this their eighth appearance in the tournament.
Canada’s journey has seen ups and downs as well, with a stunning semifinal appearance in 2003 followed by some early exits. Their quarterfinal appearance in 2015 brought glory to their nation and reignited their passion for the sport.
As the two teams clash in their opening game, both Nigeria and Canada are eager to secure a strong start. Canada’s lineup is bolstered by a talented squad, and they aim to progress deeper into the tournament, even though winning the trophy might be a lofty ambition.
In terms of team news, both squads are largely in good health, with a slight concern surrounding Jessie Fleming, the Chelsea midfielder for Canada, who is nursing a minor injury. Coach Priestman might opt to introduce her cautiously or use her as a late substitute to avoid aggravating the issue.
Nigeria last met with Canada in April 2022 which ended in a 2-2 draw. They have been unable to enjoy similar success in the World Cup, with their best performance at the tournament taking place in 2003 when they finished in fourth place. Nigeria were unable to make it out of the group stage in the next two World Cup finals, before finishing at the quarter-final in their home World Cup in 2015.
Nigeria: Nnadozie; Imuran, Ebi, Demehin, Alozie; Ayinde; Ajibade, Echegini, Payne; Onumonu, Oshoala
Canada: Sheridan; Chapman, Gilles, Buchanan, Lawrence; Grosso, Schmidt, Fleming; Leon, Sinclair, Huitema