The Super Falcons will edge closer towards qualifying for the round of 16 if they secure a win against Australia today in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The nine-time African champions who have one point need to defeat co-hosts, Australia in order to qualify from Group B following the exit of Ireland who stumbled to their second defeat against Canada and failed to make it to the next round despite having one game left to play.
Only a win will put the Super Falcons in excellent position for a place in the Round of 16, as only the top two teams in each of the eight groups will advance in a tournament that has welcomed 32 teams for the first time.
The tough issue is that if the Super Falcons fail to beat Australia, they will have to throw everything they have into overcoming Ireland in their last group encounter.
Regardless of whether Ireland wins or loses, they have nothing to lose. They would also aim to fight against Nigeria and earn a point or three before exiting the tournament.
The Super Falcons will need to do the needful against Australia and earn all three points to avoid putting pressure on themselves in the last group stage game.
In the same vein, coach Randy Waldrum has played down the advantage tag placed on his team.
” We never like to see players injured, I know how devastating that is, missing matches at a World Cup,” the American born tactician said in a pre-match press conference yesterday.
“But I don’t think it really changes our tactics and what we are trying to do. They obviously still have a lot of weapons that can hurt you.
“We know the strength of their team, I know a lot of their players well from when I was coaching in the (American) NWSL, and I know their quality. So we cannot go into the match thinking we are at some advantage for that reason.
“We have to stick to the game plan and how we have been preparing for them since after the Canada match”, he added.
Meanwhile, Asisat Oshoala played in Nigeria’s first game of the competition last Friday against Canada, could be absent when Randy Waldrum’s women face the Maltidas today.
The Barcelona star reportedly took a knock after being brought off in the encounter against Canada, and she now faces a race against time to recover in time for the match against Australia.
Oshoala is not the only player who will be absent from the game against Australia. Deborah Abiodun will also miss the game after receiving a red card in the last stages of the play against Canada.
However, the good news for Nigeria is that Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimatu Ayinde, who both missed the clash against Canada due to suspension, are back for the game against the Maltidas.