Some ex-stars of 11-time African champions Super Falcons have given the team tips on how they can stun the Englishwomen on Monday to progress to the quarter-finals for the second time ever at the ongoing Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Lionesses set up the meeting with the Falcons on Tuesday after thrashing China 6-1 in Adelaide to top Group D with a 100 per cent record, while the Nigerians finished second in Group B. Despite starting their campaign positively, Nigeria missed the chance to top their group, no thanks to a goalless draw against Ireland on Monday.

Monday’s meeting will be the fourth meeting of both sides and second at the World Cup. England beat the Falcons 3-2 in their first meeting at the 1995 World Cup but Nigeria have triumphed in the other two games, pipping the English 1-0 on July 23, 2002, then again by a more comfortable 3-0 on April 22, 2004 in friendlies.

Eleven-time African champions Nigeria, alongside Brazil, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States belong to the exclusive club of countries  that have attended every Women’s World Cup since the event was first held in 1991.

Retired goalkeeper, Rachael Ayegba, who represented Nigeria between 2001 and 2010 and was called up to the 2007 Women’s World Cup squad, told BBC Sport Africa about their chances against England in the last 16.

“I have been really impressed with the Super Falcons’ performances. They have exceeded my expectations. Compared to four years ago at the World Cup in France, our game has really changed with the way we are attacking opponents,” Ayegba said.

“The key to beating England in the next round is not allowing them to play their own game. Everybody has a plan and if you let your opponents put that plan into action then you are going to be in trouble.

“Likewise, every team has a weak point and England currently have some injuries. When Nigeria beat Australia, the hosts actually played well but we over-powered them with our strength and power. That’s our weapon that we have to use. If we can do that, then the game is 50/50.

“I think it could end 1-1, with Nigeria winning it in extra time.”

Former Falcons captain and defender, Kikelomo Ajayi, is optimistic that Nigeria can bank on their superior head-to-head record against England.

“This is a mouth-watering clash and a big test for the Super Falcons at the 2023 World Cup,” Ajayi told our correspondent.

“England has great attacking prowess, but the Falcons should be more focused, determined and work on the opponents’ key players. I know some football pundits will tip England as favourites to overcome Nigeria, but this is the kind of game that will spark the Falcons players up and give them the extra push to defeat England.”

Atlanta 1996 Olympic gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa, a member of the Falcons at the maiden Women’s World Cup in 1991, also said the team must be clinical against the Lionesses.

“We should take our chances because we ought to beat Ireland. If I were the coach, I would start the three substitutes in the Ireland game against England. It doesn’t matter when they bring Oshoala in, when she came in against Australia, we saw what happened. So, I believe she can still make a difference from the bench.”

Former midfielder Maureen Mmadu said, “I don’t think the England team are better than Australia. We have to defend well and attack together. I see them going far if they concentrate.”



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