Nigeria vs Ireland: Super Falcons players rated from best to worst as Nnadozie makes history

Super Falcons players celebrating after reaching the World Cup round of 16 | Imago

Nigeria vs Ireland: Super Falcons players rated from best to worst as Nnadozie makes history

Ayoola Kelechi 13:54 - 31.07.2023

Who were Nigeria's best players against Ireland and who disappointed the most?

The Super Falcons of Nigeria claimed a well-earned draw against Ireland in their final group game to qualify for the round of 16. 

The 0-0 meant that the Super Falcons will finish as runners-up in Group B to reach the second round after a win against Australia and a draw against Canada. 

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Against Ireland, a number of players showed incredible quality to propel the Super Falcons past the group stages, and we have rated every one of them below. 

Halimatu Ayinde 8/10

Halimatu Ayinde recovered well from an injury suffered against Australia to put on a show-stopping performance for the Super Falcons versus Ireland.

Tireless in defence and tidy in possession, the Rosengard midfielder was Nigeria’s best player on the day, completing an astonishing 89% of her passes including six of seven attempted long balls while also making 11 recoveries and succeeding with all five of her tackles, the joint most on the team.

Halimatu Ayinde put on a standout performance for Nigeria against Ireland  | Imago
Halimatu Ayinde put on a standout performance for Nigeria against Ireland | Imago

Uchenna Kanu 7/10

Uchenna Kanu proved again to be a potentially devastating option for the Super Falcons on the wings with another superb display to torment the Irish defence.

She came closest to scoring for Nigeria against Ireland but could only watch her effort cannon off the upright in the second half. She also created another superb chance to take the lead in the opening half, but her effort on that occasion was wasted.

Toni Payne 7/10

Toni Payne continues to grow into the tournament with each passing game, and against Ireland, she was one of the Super Falcons’ best players.

For perhaps the first time all tournament, her creativity was at the fore against the Irish and she had a field day creating openings for Nigeria, carving out an excellent second-half chance that could have given the Super Falcons all three points.

Chiamaka Nnadozie 6/10

A quiet game compared to other group fixtures for Chaimaka Nnadozie, but the 22-year-old goalkeeper was still solid when called upon, making a crucial save to deny Kyra Carusa from point-blank range in the first-half when Ireland were on the ascendancy.

World Cup record holder Nnadozie alongside Michelle Alozie | Imago
World Cup record holder Nnadozie alongside Michelle Alozie | Imago

The young goalkeeper, with the help of her teammates, also made history, becoming the first African goalkeeper to keep two clean sheets at a single edition of the Women's World Cup. 

Christy Ucheibe 6/10

Super Falcons’ Miss dependable, Christy Ucheibe was an excellent midfield compliment to Ayinde as the midfield pairing showed composure and quality against Ireland.

She tied Ayinde for the most tackles of any Super Falcons player but was also behind only Payne for the number of dribbles completed in the entire match as she embarked on forays forward thanks to the added protection provided by her midfield partner.

Ashleigh Plumptre 6/10

Another quietly impressive performance by Ashleigh Plumptre at left-back despite not actually being one.

Her ability on the ball shone through once again as she was a focal point for the Super Falcons’ efforts to keep possession and received the ball more than any of her teammates against Ireland.

She was defensively firm as well and showed an excellent reading of situations to make a match-high four clearances against Ireland.

Blessing Demehin 5/10

Thanks to the defensive quality of the midfielders in front of them, the Super Falcons’ centre-back pairing of Blessing Demehin and Osinachi Ohale were hardly under pressure for most of the match.

With this in mind, Demehin still performed admirably and hardly put a foot wrong all game, mopping up whatever opponents’ moves managed to get beyond the middle third of the pitch.

Osinachi Ohale 5/10

As with Demehin, Ohale was undisturbed for much of the game and did not have to make a tackle, block or interception throughout the match.

Osinachi Ohale and Blessing Demehin were solid at the back for Nigeria | Imago
Osinachi Ohale and Blessing Demehin were solid at the back for Nigeria | Imago

She however shone in possession, completing 90% of her 44 attempted passes, and helped get the team out of danger as she completed seven of eight attempted long passes, the most in the match.

Rasheedat Ajibade 5/10

After putting on a sensational attacking performance to down Australia in her first game back after suspension, Rasheedat Ajibade was subdued in comparison against Ireland, managing just one shot on goal throughout the match.

She still had a decent game however, and must be praised for her selflessness in running herself into the ground for her team and putting on a superb defensive display.

Michelle Alozie 5/10

Michelle Alozie enjoyed a holiday from the constant pressure that she was put under in the Super Falcons opening games against Canada and Australia, and she enjoyed the freedom to roam the pitch a bit more against Ireland.

She was important in Nigeria’s build-up, like her compatriot on the opposite flank, and was assured in possession throughout the 90 minutes.

Asisat Oshoala 4/10

Big things were expected from Asisat Oshoala after coming off the bench to score Nigeria’s winner against Australia in the last game, but the Barcelona forward failed to produce anything similar to that performance and hardly threatened the Irish defence before being taken off in the second half.

Despite coming on to change the game and score what turned out to be the winning goal against Australia, Oshoala received criticism for missing two chances against Ireland.
Oshoala missed Nigeria's best chance against Ireland

To add to her ineffective performance, Oshoala also missed Nigeria’s best chance of the game, failing to hit the target after being found in the box by Uchenna Kanu.

An outing to forget for the Barcelona star, but she will look forward to a better performance for the Super Falcons in the round of 16.


Gift Monday 5.5/10

Gift Monday came off the bench for her first appearance at the World Cup and immediately gave coach Randy Waldrum reasons why it should not be her last.

The winger was a superb replacement for Kanu after 68 minutes and was keen to give the Irish defenders a taste of her pace and trickery.

Gift Monday celebrates with Blessing Demehin after the Ireland game | Imago
Gift Monday celebrates with Blessing Demehin after the Ireland game | Imago

While she needs to add some end product to her game, she showed that she could be a great option for the Super Falcons to have on the bench to destabilize tough defences.

Ifeoma Onumonu 5/10

After replacing Oshoala upfront, Ifeoma Onumonu did not have better luck than the Barcelona forward, although she was not afforded the same opportunities.

She was able to force Ireland’s defenders backwards with her runs in behind the backline and was okay in the 23 minutes that she played.

Onome Ebi x/10

After coming on for Demehin in the closing stages of the match against Ireland, Super Falcons’ captain Onome Ebi did not have enough time to impact proceedings.