3 things coach Waldrum must do to ensure Super Falcons win against Australia

Super Falcons boss Randy Waldrum has a fractured relationship with the NFF

3 things coach Waldrum must do to ensure Super Falcons win against Australia

Ayoola Kelechi 20:51 - 25.07.2023

Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum comes up against the tough task of beating the host country Australia, these are three things he must do to stand a chance against the favourites

Nigeria’s Super Falcons take on hosts Australia in their second FIFA Women’s World Cup Group B match, looking to get their first win of the tournament, after a credible draw in their opening game against Canada.

Even though the Super Falcons played well against Canada and achieved an unlikely draw all things considered, there were still things that coach Randy Waldrum got wrong, and against Australia, there are three key things that he must get right to ensure an even better result.

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Do not focus on Kerr’s absence

Australia will be without Chelsea forward Sam Kerr for the Super Falcons encounter and possibly throughout the entire group stage. Still, coach Waldrum will be wise to discount the striker’s absence when planning for the match.

Australia's Sam Kerr
Australia's Sam Kerr will miss the game against the Super Falcons

Australia were without Kerr in their opening game when they overcame Ireland 1-0 thanks to a goal from captain of the day Steph Catley.

The Super Falcons’ gaffer should therefore be weary of underestimating Australia despite their star forward’s absence, as the Matildas still have incredible talents like Lyon’s Elle Carpenter and Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord, who can hurt Nigeria or indeed any other team at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on their day.

Nigeria did well to stifle Canada’s attacks from open play in their opening game, thanks to solid organisation and the necessary respect for their opponents on the day. They will need to be at their defensive best again when they face Australia.

Keep the defensive shape

Key to maintaining organisation and defensive solidity against Australia will be maintaining the shape that the Super Falcons played with against Canada.

With a 4-2-3-1 starting formation, the Super Falcons often defended with six or more players as the two defensive midfielders on that occasion, Christy Ucheibe and Deborah Abiodun, pressed Canada’s midfielders, while wingers Ifeoma Onumonu and Francisca Ordega were tasked with doubling back to help the defence.

4-2-3-1 formation used by Randy Waldrum against Canada Credit | Sofascore
4-2-3-1 formation used by Randy Waldrum against Canada Credit | Sofascore

While some have criticised Waldrum for his approach on the day, this tactic was crucial in limiting reigning Olympic champions Canada to less than 1.0 xG from open play.

Against Australia, who are an equally adept side and registered 63% possession against Ireland in their opening game, the Super Falcons could be set for another day of resolute defending, and will need to be even better at the back to get a good result.

Start Rasheedat Ajibade

Despite being compact in defence, the Super Falcons struggled to impose any real threat against Canada until late in the game, when they introduced fresh legs on the wings and were able to mount devastating counterattacks with players who were willing to and capable of making runs in behind the Canadian highline.

Uchenna Kanu and Esther Okoronkwo came off the bench for the Super Falcons on that occasion, but the squad contains yet another winger who would be perfect to lead their counterattacking efforts in Atletico Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade.

Super Falcons star Rasheedat Ajibade
Super Falcons star Rasheedat Ajibade

The 23-year-old winger is renowned for her pace, which is the key to a seamless counterattacking style for the Super Falcons and needs to replace either Onumonu or Ordega to facilitate better transitions against Australia.

Her ability to make runs in-behind will give creative midfielder Toni Payne another target for progressive passes rather than having to depend only on the closely watched Asisat Oshoala alone.

Ajibade’s inclusion, and perhaps that of another pacey winger making difficult runs will also force some attention away from Oshoala, opening her to more opportunities.

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