Nigeria’s Super Falcons against all odds have seized top spot in group B of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup after an emphatic 3-2 win over hosts Australia yesterday.
In a dramatic end to the first half, Emily van Egmond gave Australia’s Matildas the lead, only for Nigeria to equalise before the half-time whistle and then score twice in the second half to secure victory in the Group.
Australia edged ahead in the first minute of added time at the end of the first half when Van Egmond guided her shot beyond Chiamaka Nnadozie following Caitlin Foord’s low cross into the penalty area.
But Nigeria equalised in the sixth minute of added time when Rasheedat Ajibade’s shot deflected towards the far post to Uchenna Kanu, who placed her shot through Steph Catley’s legs and beyond Mackenzie Arnold.
Asisat Oshoala’s introduction on 63 minutes immediately unsettled the Australian defence and Nigeria forged ahead two minutes later when the Most Valuable Player MVP of the match, Osinachi Ohale, who was hurt in the process, headed in at the far post after Ajibade’s header was pushed away by Arnold.
Oshoala’s presence unsettled Australia again on 72 minutes as she scored Nigeria’s third goal from a tight angle following a mix-up between Alanna Kennedy and Arnold.
Kennedy pulled a goal back deep into added time to set up a nervy end of the encounter but Nigeria held on to see out the win.
Defeat means Australia go into their final group game against Canada knowing they need to win to guarantee a place in the last 16.
Nigeria on the other hand need at least a draw against tournament’s debutants the Republic of Ireland on 31 July at 11am to ensure qualification to the knockout phase.