Super Falcons captain Onome Ebi has said that the Nigerians are determined to get a win against Australia when they face off at the Lang Park in Brisbane/Meaanjin on Thursday night in what is one of the most-anticipated clashes of the group stage at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Having already claimed the maximum three points from their opening match against the Republic of Ireland in Sydney on 20 July, the Matildas are well aware of the formidable challenge posed by the nine-time African champions, Super Falcons.
The Nigerian side showcased their resilience against Olympic champions Canada in Melbourne, refusing to bow down and ending the game in a draw.
Ebi emphasized the significance of this crucial encounter, highlighting that a win will be sufficient to bolster the Super Falcons’ chances of progressing to the Round of 16.
With the 2023 Women’s World Cup hosting 32 teams for the first time ever, the competition is fierce, and each game holds immense importance.
“Of course, it is the World Cup. You have to accept the fact that you are going to play the best teams in the world and you have to be alive to that responsibility and face it with your full chest,” Ebi told thenff.com.
“We will go in there and play to win. There are no two ways about it. Only three points will be good enough for us.”
The Super Falcons have been on a remarkable five-match unbeaten streak, a testament to their tenacity and skill. They have conquered opponents such as Costa Rica (1-0), Haiti (2-1), New Zealand (3-0), and Lions Women’s Football Club (8-1) prior to the World Cup.
Ebi believes this impressive record will fuel the team as they take on Australia on their home turf, in front of a partisan crowd at Lang Park.
Nigeria is one of only seven countries (the others being USA, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Japan and Norway) to have featured in every single edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the competition was launched in 1991. Australia missed the inaugural edition in China, but have been at every other final tournament since then.
Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie has returned to training after being excused for one day following the MVP-winning performance against Canada in Melbourne, and consistency is expected in the selection of the rearguard, with Michelle Alozie and Ashley Plumptre on the wings, and veteran Osinachi Ohale and youthful Oluwatosin Demehin at central.
The co-hosts will have to do without their talismanic captain Sam Kerr, who has been the face on most advertisements pertaining to the tournament here.
Antithetically, Nigeria has gained with the return of the fabulous Rasheedat Ajibade – whose goal against Cameroon in the Women Africa Cup of Nations’ quarter-finals secured Nigeria’s passage to these finals – and midfield battering ram Halimatu Ayinde from suspension.
Asisat Oshoala, who suffered a knock against the Canadians, could be excused, with Nigeria sufficiently blessed in Desire Oparanozie, Jennifer Echegini, Gift Monday and Uchenna Kanu.