The Super Falcons are preparing for their crucial clash against 2023 World Cup co-hosts Australia on Thursday at the Lang Park in Brisbane and securing three points will position the Falcons strongly for the knockout stages.
For the Aussies, a win will continue their perfect start and put them in a favourable position to top Group B.
PUNCH Sports Extra takes a look at some of the flaws observed in the Falcons’ opening 0-0 draw against Canada last Friday and how they can correct them against a strong Australian side backed by their vociferous home fans.
- Creating chances
Against Canada, the Falcons struggled to create meaningful opportunities in the attacking third, as well as assert themselves against the Canadian defence. Improving their ability to carve out chances will be crucial against Australia on Thursday. They must focus on better ball movement, exploiting spaces to trouble their opponents defence.
The return of Atletico Madrid forward Rasheedat Ajibade, who missed the Canada clash due to suspension, will offer the Nigerians more quality upfront. Her presence would also allow Asisat Oshoala more freedom as they are both arguably the most creative attackers in the team.
Effective finishing is an essential aspect of any successful team. The Falcons must work on their composure in front of goal to capitalise on the chances they create. Missed opportunities can prove costly at this level of competition, and sharpening their finishing will be critical in their quest for victory.
Striker Ifeoma Onumonu, veteran defender Osinachi Ohale and the Nigeria Football Federation president Ibrahim Gusau have all openly agreed the Falcons need to score goals, if they need to advance. Ruing the missed chances against Canada, the girls would be keen not to have a repeat, bearing in mind the potent attacking squad of Australia, led by Mary Fowler, who stands in for their absent top scorer Sam Kerr.
During the match against Canada, the positioning of Falcons players, particularly in the attacking phase, was a concern. Oshoala, the team’s key striker, found herself isolated and away from the top nine position, limiting her effectiveness in front of goal. The team must work on their positioning and coordination to optimise their attacking moves and make the most of their attacking threats.
One of the best chances in the match last Friday was from an Oshoala squared ball that could not find anyone in a green jersey as the team positioning left her isolated.
Going up against a formidable Australian side, the Falcons must demonstrate a high level of aggression and determination on the pitch. They should utilise their physicality and strength to pressure the opponents and gain an advantage in crucial areas of the game.
The nine-time African champions would be considered a more physically stronger side so they will need to play to their strength against the technically sound Aussies.
Defensive solidity is crucial in any match, and the Falcons must address this area to prevent quick counterattacks from Australia. Effective tackling and winning balls will also be vital in regaining possession and thwarting the opposition’s advances.
Their positioning in defence is also very important as Chiamaka Nnadozie was often left open by her defenders against Canada. And while she was up to the task, a stronger defence would also inspire more confidence in the shot stopper.
As the Falcons prepare for their encounter with Australia, they must already be aware of the need to address these flaws from their previous game as Ohale highlighted some of these in her post-match interview.
With determination and tactical adjustments, the Falcons can aim to put up a stronger performance and secure a positive result against their Australian counterparts. The nation’s hopes remain high, as the Falcons seek to make a lasting impact on the global stage of women’s football.