The Super Falcons increased their chances of qualifying for the next round of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with the win over Australia and will finish as group winners if they triumph against debutants Republic of Ireland, who have nothing to play for.
With a draw and a win over Canada and Australia, respectively, the Nigerian ladies are one leg into the round of 16, which is a relief for Coach Randy Waldrum, especially as he has players who have several knocks going into this third group game.
Osinachi Ohale, who put her life on the line to score Nigeria’s second goal, and Toni Payne, who collided with Katrina Gorry but played till the 90th minute before being substituted for captain Onome Ebi, may not face the Irish. Meanwhile, Halimatu Ayinde, that limped off the pitch in the second half, isn’t confirmed fit to play as well.
But to get to the round of 16, Waldrum will still use his tactics, but maybe with different players for the Monday morning task.
Moreso, Coach Waldrum will cautiously select players as the trio of Asisat Oshoala, Blessing Demehin, and Michelle Alozie, who were booked in the last game, risk missing the round of 16 if they get booked against Ireland on Monday. Deborah Abiodun, the first player to be shown a red card in the World Cup, will miss Monday’s clash to complete her punishment.
However, the saying that it’s hard to change a winning team would be another consideration for Waldrum when he fields almost the same starting 11 that defeated Australia today against the Irish, who will have their last piece of cake at the Tournament.
While it is essential to keep the chemistry in the winning team, Waldrum must take note of players that were not up to the task in the previous game.
Waldrum’s proposed lineup
Chiamaka Nnadozie remains at Pole
The stand-in captain Chiamaka Nnadozie would maintain her position for her coordination and heroics in the competition. However, she needs to do better, especially in ball service, which almost cost the team against Australia.
Ohale and Demehin
Hopefully, Ohale plays against Ireland while Demehin remains careful so as not to be booked for another yellow card in the game. With the combination of both players and the retirement of Ebi drawing closer, Waldrum would be interested in using Ohale and Demehin to keep the chemistry of both players.
Michelle Alozie and Ashleigh Plumptre
Waldrum will risk Alozie, who must avoid being booked for a yellow card in her right fullback position, and this is because of her offensive prowess. One strength of Waldrum’s team is Alozie and Plumptre, who make the runs through the flanks to complement the front three.
Christy Ucheibe and Onyi Echegini
Tentatively, Onyi Echegini should get her first World Cup start because of Halimatu Ayinde, who is said to have been sidelined because of injury, and the absence of Deborah Abiodun, who is also serving a match ban from the red card awarded against Canada. Meanwhile, she was the go-to for Randy Walderum after Ayinde limped off injured in the 76th minute.
But Christy Ucheibe should continue to marshall the midfield after putting in excellent performances.
Toni Payne, Rasheedat Ajibade, and Uchenna Kanu
Toni Payne can improve on her creativity, especially being clinical in front of the goal, while Uchenna Kanu and Ajibade should get their second World Cup appearances because of their classy show against Australia. Both players were involved in Nigeria’s two goals against Australia.
And Oshoala should get back to the starting lineup because of Onumonu’s sloppiness on the ball.
Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999