Super Falcons holds on in the ‘Group of Death’
Canada’s forward Jordyn Huitema, centre, reacts to a missed chance on goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup Group B football match between Nigeria and Canada at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, on July 21, 2023 [William West/AFP]
By Ed Emeanua
Nigeria’s Super Falcons fought out a scoreless draw with the reigning Olympics champions Canada in their opening ‘Group of Death’ game at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Australia in the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
Nigeria’s two goals were scored by the pair of Asisat Oshoala (21st minute) and ‘Captain Fantastico’ Onome Ebi (55th minute) while Canada’s lone goal of the game came through the boots of forward
The draw takes the nine-time African champions to a joint second place on Group B qualifying play table with Canada with tournament co-hosts, Matildas of Australia leading the group, and Ireland making up the rear of the placing.
The draw also boosts the qualifying chances of Nigeria from the group rounds with their next game coming up on Thursday, July 27 at the “The Cauldron”, also known as the Suncorp Stadium, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, in the suburb of Milton.
A win against Australia in the African’s second game at the Women’s World Cup assures the Super Falcons a berth at the knockout stage of the tournament and qualification from a group none gave them a chance of making it out from.
First XI average age 27.5 yrs
A straightforward ball down the left wing from Nigeria in the 22nd minute that should have been comfortably cleared by the Canadian goalkeeper, was however totally missed.
Asisat Oshoala latches on to the loose ball but her effort goes out wide, and her shot from a tight angle is well blocked by Ashley Lawrence.
The game became an end-to-end onslaught with the first half ending on a scoreless note.
Early penalty claim in the 47th minute of the second half for Canada, as Christine Sinclair goes down under a seemingly light but clumsy Francisca Ordega tackle.
The referee initially waves it away – but is summoned to the VAR monitor. Finnish referee Lina Lehtovaara check on the screen leads her to reverses her decision!
For the second successive match at the 2023 World Cup, a penalty kick has been awarded. Christine Sinclair’s chance to make history as the first to score at six World Cups was however denied by Chiamaka Nnadozie who saved her weak penalty kick.
It was all Canada offensive for a long stretch with Nigeria again holding firm to a robust defensive line.
Nigeria’s Chiamaka Nnadozie made a stunning save on a penalty kick from Canada’s Christine Sinclair to keep the game scoreless
In the 82 minute, makes a dangerous break down the right, with a low ball pulled back towards Uchenna Kanu who has space in the box.
Kanu cuts her shot back across goal, but Sheridan makes a fantastic save with her left foot. There was a suspected offside in the build up, still it looked like a let-off for Canada.
Both sides remained dogged till the referee ended the match on the final whistle