Nigeria’s group opponents at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Canada, are also having a fair share of crisis ahead of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which kicks off July 20, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The Olympic champions have an ongoing drama surrounding the team and the federation as the Canadian players are seeking equal pay with the men’s team and have been negotiating a new contract with Canada Soccer for more than a year.
At the same time, the team said it was told that funding issues meant players wouldn’t have any send-off matches in Canada ahead of the tournament, just as the number of players and staff invited to camp were reduced.
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan said it was most important now for the players and staff to channel all their focus into being the best team they can be on the field.
“There’s definitely been a lot more work that we’ve had to do, kind of making it a bit more of a challenge for us. We aren’t happy with the current situation and we are not happy as a group with the lack of home games or fewer games than anybody else heading into a World Cup,” Sheridan said.
“But at the same time, we also know that there’s an opportunity to take control of what we can.”
Players say progress has been made in talks with the federation, while they will also play a behind-closed-doors exhibition against England in Australia, before the World Cup.
Currently ranked seventh in the world and the highest ranked in Group B, Canada’s best finish at the World Cup was fourth in 2003. At the 2019 tournament, they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Sweden.
“I know that we have a very resilient group, a very gritty group and that group of people — no matter what is happening off the field — will make sure the job gets done on the field,” Canada goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan said. “So, I’m not really worried in that sense, but I also don’t want to dismiss what’s going on either.”
Canada are 33 places above Nigeria in the current FIFA rankings, but their recent problems as well as their not-too-impressive antecedents at the World Cup might be something to cheer for the Super Falcons who have also made the news over bonus rows.
Nigeria and Canada will face off at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Friday, July 21.