The Super Falcons will start their 2023 World Cup quest when they file out against Canada in a Group B encounter.
Nigeria, having participated in all editions of the Women’s World Cup, will battle the Olympic champions at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Australia.
Despite making all editions of the global showpiece, Nigeria have only managed to reach the quarter-final once. That was in 1999 when they lost dramatically 4-3 to Brazil.
In the last edition of the competition, the West Africans bowed out in the round of 16 after crashing to France.
With just four wins in 26 World Cup matches, the Super Falcons are eager to rewrite history in Australia and New Zealand.
Asides from The Maple Leafs and Nigeria, other teams in Group B include co-hosts Australia and the Republic of Ireland.
When Nigeria start their 2023 World Cup campaign against the CONCACAF champions, they will be taking on familiar foes. Both sides have met four times, twice in the competition – group stage in 1995 and 2011.
The North Americans have won once, two of the matches ended in draws while Nigeria emerged victorious on one occasion.
But Canada’s coach Priestman believes Nigeria are no pushovers.
“With Nigeria, you could argue that their consistency hasn’t been great, but when they’re good, they’re really good. I just think we just need a calmness and a belief in what we do well. We’ll be going to try and top the group,” the coach told FIFA.com.
Coach Randy Waldrum’s girls have won three and lost two of their last five games. But their opponents have managed one win in the same number of matches, losing four of them.
He is already anticipating a tough tie with Canada.
Canada are the Olympics 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,” he said, according to FIFA. “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 gameplan.”
While Nigeria may have had some off-field skirmishes in the lead-up to the tournament, that seems to have fizzled away and the team is raring to go.
So far, there are no reports of injury worries for them heading into the clash against Bev Priestman’s charges. But Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimat Ayinde won’t play in the game after being sent off in Nigeria’s semi-final loss to Morocco at the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON).
Against Canada, Nigeria will be backing on in-form Barcelona Femeni star Asisat Oshoala to lead the line. The African Player of the Year is the first from the continent to get a female Ballon d’Or nomination