Nigeria Super Falcons are unbeaten at the FIFAWWC but face a tricky tie against a wounded Republic of Ireland team playing for pride.
Nigeria Super Falcons are back in action at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIFAWWC, later today.
The Falcons take on the bottom-of-the-table team, the Republic of Ireland in the final game of the group stages in Group.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons need just a point against the Irish to guarantee a place in the knockout round and a win to finish as group winners.
With the stakes still much high for the multiple African champions, here are five of the biggest talking points heading into the game slated for later this morning.
Nigeria Super Falcons must avoid defeat
Nigeria will go into the final and decisive game of the group stages as one of the favourites to go through to the next round.
Super Falcons have been superb so far in Australia after taking four points from a possible six in their opening two matches.
Despite the disappointing preparation heading into the competition, the Falcons have weathered the painful distractions to get to within a point of the knockout stages in a group that includes Australia and Canada.
Nigeria must avoid defeat to Ireland or win to avoid permutation and combination.
Ireland are potential banana peels
While Ireland has nothing but pride to fight for after crashing out following two defeats in two matches, expect them to be a big test for the Falcons. Ireland has proven to be a difficult team to break down and Nigeria will find that out when both teams take to the pitch.
However, Super Falcons are no pushovers but have to be focused to avoid slip-ups at this point, especially with a ticket to the knockout stage within sight.
The Irish have won just one of the last seven matches in all competitions and that win came against African opposition, Zambia. It was also one of only two matches that the Girls in Green scored a goal in that time. Scary? Of course.
All eyes on Oshoala
The Barcelona star is back after coming from the bench the last time to help Nigeria shock Australia.
Asisat Oshoala came into the competition as Nigeria’s most high-profile player but started the tournament on a shaky note.
But her reputation has been restored following a super-sub performance the last time as she made history against the Matildas to give Nigeria that stunning win.
She will be the centre of attention when the Falcons take to the pitch against the Irish and for the right reasons.
Coach Randy Waldrum was not the most popular head coach going into the ninth FIFAWWC but he has earned respect this far.
With Ireland next on the agenda, Waldrum has a selection headache as talented youngster Deborah Abiodun is set to return from suspension.
Abiodun, known as Kante, picked up a red card in the opener against Canada despite an impressive WC debut which saw her miss the win against Australia.
In her absence, Toni Payne and Halimatu Ayinde, who missed the opener against Canada, proved to be worthy replacements.
After their impressive performances against the Aussies, however, it will be interesting to see what Waldrum does against Ireland with all the players available for selection for the first time in the tournament.
Ireland’s aerial threat
Nigeria will have to be at their utmost best to handle Ireland and their aerial threats.
The Irish have proven to be deadly from set plays with Megan Connolly and inspirational star, Katie McCabe, at the heart of their deliveries.
McCabe netted a stunning goal from a corner in the defeat to Olympic champions and the Super Falcons must be prepared.
Nigeria Super Falcons must not be sloppy around the box and avoid any situation that will lead to giving away needless fouls in Nigeria’s danger zone.
Nigerians will need goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie has proven invaluable so far with her superb command of her aerial space, to repeat her heroics against the well-drilled Europeans.
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