Nigeria at the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Nigeria at the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Nigeria did remarkably well to win their 11th Africa Cup of Nations title in 2018, with the team beating South Africa on penalties in the title game, but they have not been as impressive at the Women’s World Cup finals.

History

The Super Falcons have been competing at the final of the showpiece tournament since 1991, but they made it to the knockout stages just once. Nigeria women’s national football team were producing splendid performances at the 1999 World Cup finals, with the team advancing to the quarter-finals of the tournament in United States of America.

Mabo Ismaila was in charge of the Nigeria back then and he helped them record the best result of the history of the national team. The Nigerian women outplayed Denmark 2-0 in the last 16 of the 1999 World Cup, setting up a meeting with Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Despite producing a fine performance in the FedEx Field clash, Nigeria were eventually beaten by Marta and Co. after extra time. Anyhow, their amazing performance in the 1999 World Cup finals will be remembered as they came from three goals behind to hold Brazil to a draw in the regular time.

Speaking of their last appearance at the Women’s World Cup finals, the African champions were more than unfortunate to face the likes of Sweden, Australia and United States of America in Group D.

As expected, the Super Falcons failed to make it to the last 16 of the tournament in Canada, but their displays in the group stages were anything but poor.

Okon Edwin’s women played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Sweden in their opener, but the likes of Australia (0-2) and USA (1-0) proved to be a big catch for the African side. It is well known that the Stars and Stripes eventually crushed Japan in the final of the showpiece tournament.

Experienced Coach

Nowadays, Swedish tactician Thomas Dennerby is in charge of the Nigeria women’s national team and he is determined to help the Super Falcons record a good result at the upcoming tournament in France.

Dennerby was born on August 13, 1959 and he played for the likes of Hammarby and Sparvagens from 1977 to 1987. After his football career, the Swedish coach took over the reins at Vartans and he was in charge of the likes of Sparvagens, Hammarby and Djurgarden as well before signing a contract with the Sweden women’s national team. Sweden won bronze medal at the 2011 FIFA World Cup finals under Thomas Dennerby, with the team beating France 2-1 in the third place play-offs. It has to be noted that Thomas Dennerby helped the Blagult advance to the quarter-finals of the Euro 2009.

In January, 2018 the Swedish coach accepted the offer from the Nigerian women’s football association and eleven months later he had a reason for celebration. The Super Falcons went all the way at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations, beating South Africa on penalties in the final of the tournament.

To make things even better for Nigeria fans, Thomas Dennerby’s troops qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup finals where they will face the likes of France, Korea Republic and Norway in Group A.

Mountain to climb

Nigeria have been handed a tough draw at the 2019 World Cup finals as hosts France are seen as one of main favourites to win the tournament. Norway are widely expected to advance to the knockout stages as well, but Thomas Dennerby’s team could spoil Korea Republic’s party at Stade des Alpes in their second group game and sneak into the last 16. Anyhow, given the quality of their rivals, it is no surprise Nigeria are seen as underdogs in Group A.

France

Over the years France have established themselves as one of the best teams in the women’s football, with several footballers playing for the Champions League winners Olympique Lyon. The likes of Amandine Henry, Wendine Renard and Gaetane Thiney are likely to pose a big threat for Nigeria defenders in their third group game and the Super Falcons should have them at bay. France coach Corinne Diacre has a number of top-class players to choose from, meaning that Nigeria should not be looking for points in the clash against the host nation.

Norway

Despite suffering two defeats to Netherlands in the qualifiers, Norway eventually booked their place at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Swedish tactician Martin Sjogren has created a good blend of youth and experience and the Scandinavian side have big ambitions for the upcoming showpiece tournament. However, the fact that Thomas Dennerby knows Martin Sjogren’s work very well could help Nigeria grab something from the opening match of their World Cup campaign.

Korea Republic

Korea Republic are a team that made it to the 2015 World Cup last 16, meaning that they should      not be written off as well. The Asian side were producing fine displays at the FFA Cup of Nations earlier in 2019, but Nigeria are definitely capable of spoiling their party at Stade des Alpes. The likes of Cho So-hyun, Jeon Ga-eul and Ji So-Yun should play important roles in Yoon Deok-yeo’s team at the 2019 Women’s World Cup finals.

Nigeria squad and key players

Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby has a number of young and talented footballers to choose from, but Tochuwku Oluehi and Onome Ebi are considered the team’s key players.

Tochukwu Oluehi is an experienced goalkeeper (32), who has been playing for the Nigeria national team since 2007. Oluehi impressed at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations, with the first-choice shot-stopper keeping six clean sheets at the tournament in Ghana. Her brilliant saves in both semis and the final helped the Super Falcons defend their Africa Cup of Nations title.

Onome Ebi is eager to prove their worth at her fifth appearance at the Women’s World Cup finals. The 36-year-old defender is likely to play an important role in Thomas Dennerby’s team and seeing that this could be her last World Cup, the experienced centre-back is likely to leave her heart on the field in every single match in Group A. It has to be noted that Ebi played five games for Nigeria at the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations.

Former Atletico Madrid striker Francisca Ordega will be yet another woman to watch in Thomas Dennerby’s team at the 2019 World Cup. Ordega has netted 7 goals in 26 appearances for the national team, meaning that the opposition defenders should have her at bay. 25-year-old Guingamp forward Ugochi Desire Oparanozie, who has scored 22 goals in 35 appearances for Nigeria, could shine at the upcoming tournament as well.

Defender Josephine Chukwunonye and Ini-Abasi Umotong did not make the cut, but Thomas Dennerby included the likes of Osinachi Ohale, Ngozi Ebere, Rita Chikwelu, Ngozi Okobi and Halimatu Ayinde.

Nigeria 23-woman World Cup squad

Goalkeepers:

Tochukwu Oluehi (Rivers Angels), Alaba Jonathan (Bayelsa Queens), Chiamaka Nnadozie (Rivers Angels)

Defenders:

Osinachi Ohale (Vaxjo DFF, Sweden), Ngozi Ebere (Arna Bjornar, Norway), Onome Ebi (Henan Huisanhang, China), Faith Michael (Pitea IF, Sweden), Chidinma Okeke (FC Robo).

Midfielders:

Rita Chikwelu (Krstianstand DFF, Sweden), Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskiltuna United, Sweden), Evelyn Nwabuoku (Rivers Angels), Ogonna Chukwudi (Djurgardens IF, Sweden), Halimatu Ayinde (Eskiltuna United, Sweden), Amarachi Okoronkwo (Nasarawa Amazons).

Forwards:

Desire Oparanozie (En Avant Guingamp, France), Anam Imo (Malmo FC Rosengard, Sweden), Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain), Chinaza Uchendu (SC Braga, Portugal), Uchenna Kanu (Southeastern University, USA), Rasheedat Ajibade (Alvadsnes IL, Norway), Francisca Ordega (Shanghai W. FC), Alice Ogebe (Rivers Angels), Chinwendu Ihezuo (Henana Huisanhang, China).

Stats and odds

Nigeria compete at the World Cup finals for the eighth consecutive time. The Super Falcons have played 22 games at the World Cup, with the team registering only three wins. The African side have suffered 16 defeats at the showpiece tournament, whilst sharing the spoils with their rivals on 3 occasions. Nigeria have netted 18 goals at the World Cup and conceded 56. In their last game at the major tournament Nigeria suffered a 1-0 loss to USA.

Speaking of their H2H record against fellow Group A teams, Nigeria were beaten by France in each of their previous two meetings. Back in 2011 les Bleues recorded a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Super Falcons at the World Cup finals and seven years later the Thomas Dennerby’s charges suffered a heavy 8-0 loss to the European side in a friendly. Nigeria faced Norway at the 2000 Olympics, with the Scandinavian side emerging triumphant (3-1). Norway rolled over Nigeria 8-0 at the 1995 Women’s World Cup. The African side will take on Korea Republic for the first time ever.

As previously mentioned, Nigeria are regarded as underdogs in Group A, with bookies offering odds of 34.00 to win the group. The Super Falcons are unlikely to clinch top position in their group, but we predict that they will steal the third place from South Korea, who often struggle at the back.

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