Falcons In Must Win Match Against Australia | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Falcons In Must Win Match Against Australia

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 at 3:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu –  Lagos


The Super Falcons goes into tonight’s match against Matidas of Australia still basking in the euphoria of its excellent come-back against Sweden, even when the Scandinavians led 2-0 at half time.

The importance of this encounter to both sides cannot be over-emphasised. While Nigeria sits second on the log by virtue of its one point earned in its match against Sweden, even though it has similar statistics with Sweden, Australia is trailing with no point and -2 goal difference.

On the part of Nigeria, that its next opponent is the United States will be an added motivation for it to go for outright victory, since USA may pose a very difficult opponent.

While Nigeria may have qualified for every FIFA Women’s World Cup since inception in 1991, Australia has consistently made progress in the competition, having qualified in six out of the seven editions so far.

The Aussie’s head coach, Alen Stajcic, is a former Australian international. In recent years, Australia has tremendously improved in the women’s game, and made giant strides in the process. The Aussies have made it to the quarter-finals in the last two World Cups in 2007 and 2011.

In the 2011 edition, it lost 3 – 1 in the quarter final to fellow Group D member, Sweden, and is ranked 10th in the FIFA rankings.

In Lisa De Vanna, who scored its solitary goal against USA, and Larissa Crummer, Caitlin Foord and goalkeeper, Lydia Williams, the Aussies can be a handful for Nigerian.

Conversely, Nigeria is ranked 33 in the world and has only qualified for the quarter -final of the tournament once in 1999. But it will obviously draw a lot of strength from its performance against Sweden, which has been applauded.

The Super Falcons’ strength lies in it’s blend of young and experienced players, with some of them coming from the squad that placed second in the last FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup, also in Canada last year.

But the team lacks the ability to deal with dead balls and corner kicks, which resulted to the two early goals it conceded against Sweden. This is one area the head coach, Edwin Okon, needs to work on if his team hopes to come out with a good result against The Matildas.

Desire Oparanozie, who gifted the Swedish an own goal, said the one point the team gained against Sweden may be the tonic it needed to beat Australia and reach the knock-out stage.

“There’s no word to explain this feeling. It’s a great feeling. Having gone down two goals and having come back to level it is quite tremendous. We feel very happy.”

In Azizat Oshoala and Ngozi Okobi, who won the best player award against Sweden, the Falcons can boast of lethal finishers.

The onus is now on Okon to come up with a game plan that can ensure victory for the Falcons.