The Super Falcons of Nigeria will face their toughest test yet at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup when they take on Olympic gold medalists Canada in their opening Group B match on Friday by 3am local time.
Much will depend on reigning CAF Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala to power the Super Falcons to victory against Canada.
The Barcelona superstar will be looking to outfox centre-backs Kadeisha Buchanan and Vanessa Gilles, pillars of the Canadian backline.
“When you have Oshoala, you have a chance against any team,” Randy Waldrum, Super Falcons coach said ahead of Friday’s encounter.
Other key members of the team to provide the needed assistance to Oshoala upfront would be Osinachi Ohale (Deportivo Alaves, Spain); Glory Ogbonna (Besiktas JK, Turkey); Ashleigh Plumptre (Leicester City, England); Toni Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash, USA); Francisca Ordega (CSKA Moscow, Russia), and Onome Ebi (Abia Angels) that would be making her sixth appearance at the World Cup, while Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France) will be in goal.
The Super Falcons also boast an impressive World Cup record against the North Americans, including a 1-0 group stage victory at Germany 2011.
The Super Falcons have the quality to spring an upset if they can channel the spirit of 2011. A positive result in their opener would give Nigeria the needed hope to break new ground in the knockout rounds.
However, Canada will prove a tougher opponent this time under English coach Bev Priestman, arriving as CONCACAF champions and eyeing Paris 2024 Olympic glory.
“Canada are the Olympic Gold medalists and we know they are going to be very good. We played them twice the last year and have a lot of respect for them.
“They are a very good side, very well coached, but I think we can have the ability to be successful if we perform and stick to our game plan,” Waldrum said.