…as Women’s World Cup begins

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is now upon us and the 32 teams are ready to prove themselves Down Under, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

The event holds from Thursday (today) to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

United States will aim to defend their back-to-back titles, while Canada, England, Germany, Norway and France are top contenders to lift the trophy.

Also debutants Haiti, Portugal, Zambia, Philippines, Ireland and three others will hope to make an impression on their debut at the tournament.

The tournament, which kicks-off today will see co-hosts New Zealand taking on Norway at Eden Park, Auckland, seeking their first ever victory at the tournament.

New Zealand are making their sixth tournament appearance, while their opponents 1995 champions Norway have never missed a Women’s World Cup finals.

Also in Group A, the Philippines will be inspired by their recent success at the AFF Championship, while Switzerland, led by new coach, Inka Grings, will hope to avoid another humiliating group stage exit like it happened at the European Championship.

In Group B, which houses Nigeria, Canada, Ireland and co-hosts Australia, many believe that the Super Falcons are in the group of death, but striker Ifeoma Onumonu is confident that Randy Waldrum’s side can advance a step further than they did at the Women’s World Cup in 2019, when they fell to Germany in the Round of 16.

Before then, the Falcons were within whistling distance of the semi-finals before losing 4-3 to Brazil in extra time at the 1999 edition in the United States.

Onumonu, 29, who will be competing at her second major tournament for the Falcons in Australia, is ready to help drive Nigeria to success.

“I’ve never been to a World Cup so this is going to be my first big international tournament,” the Gotham FC striker told ESPN.

“I want to leave a mark at the World Cup. I don’t want to just go to the World Cup, I want to compete. I’m not there just to go and say I went to a World Cup, I am there to actually win.”

“I’m still trying to figure that out. I just don’t know what that looks like. I know that it is going to be part of my preparation as we get closer is to figure out what it is that I want to leave at that tournament.”

The Gotham FC forward also believes she can stand out in the team’s stacked forward line that includes Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie and Rasheedat Ajibade.

“I’ve never been to a World Cup, so, this is going to be my first big international tournament. It is going to be difficult and I’m preparing for that,” she continued.

“I don’t want to just go to the World Cup, I want to compete. I’m not there just to go and say I went to a World Cup, I am there to actually win.”

In the Falcons group, The Aussies will not only be banking on their home crowd to flourish at the World Cup, but also on star striker Sam Kerr to surpass their best finish at the Women’s World Cup.

Australia have featured at the last seven editions but have only reached the quarter-finals once.

Canada are favourites for the title in light of their Olympic triumph at the Tokyo Games. Ireland are making their debut at the women’s showpiece event and will rely heavily on their captain Katie McCabe for success at the tourney.

Aside Nigeria, Africa will also be represented by Zambia and Morocco, who are making their debut at the tournament, and South Africa who are appearing for the second time.

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