England’s Lionesses will face African powerhouse the Super Falcons of Nigeria in an eagerly anticipated Round of 16 clash at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Monday morning (British and Nigerian time).
The 2023 World Cup has continued to throw up major upsets and surprises with the latest being the elimination of Women’s football Queens USA on Sunday, following the likes of Germany, Brazil and Canada who were sent home after the group stage.
England vs Nigeria is a meeting between the first placed team in Group D and the second placed side in Group B after Nigeria survived an awkward-looking group, coming out unscathed in the midst of Olympic champions Canada and highly reverred co-hosts Australia.
Monday’s game at the Lang Park in Brisbane will feature one of the tournament’s favourites England and one of the tournament’s surprise packages Nigeria with both sides yet to taste defeat in Australia.
The last time both countries met at the Women’s World Cup, England were making their maiden appearance at the mundial and beat the West Africans who were winless in World Cup history at that point, 3-2 in Karlstad, Sweden in 1995.
England’s thumping 6-1 win over China in their final group game was the point the European champions announced their intentions of landing the global crown after grinding out 1-0 results against Haiti and Denmark in their opening two games.
For Nigeria, the record African Cup winners rode on their disciplined 0-0 draw with Canada in their opening game to further surprise many with a come-from-behind win over co-hosts Australia before sealing their knockout spot with a draw against debutants Ireland.
Match 54: England vs Nigeria
Date: Monday, August 6, 2023
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia
Time: 8:30am Nigerian Time.
England are encouraged by the news that Barcelona midfielder Keira Walsh has not suffered a ligament injury. The Lionesses feared the worst when she was stretchered off in the first half of their win over Denmark.
England head coach Sarina Wiegman says “she is doing well” now and her participation in Monday’s game against Nigeria is dependent on how she did in the last training session on Sunday. All other players are available for the Lionesses while the trio of Lucy Bronze, Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp walk tight ropes of suspension going into the game.
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#FIFAWWC DISCIPLINARY NEWS— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) August 5, 2023
Super Falcons’ Deborah Abiodun (c) will complete her 3-match ban against England on Monday. The trio of Tosin Demehin (r), Michelle Alozie and Asisat Oshoala are also one booking away from suspension.#ENGNGA #FIFAWomensWorldCup2023 pic.twitter.com/KHsrQFJ9mv
Nigeria are without teenage midfielder Deborah Abiodun who serves the final match of her three-game suspension after she was sent off in the opening draw with Canada. Her teammates; Asisat Oshoala, Michelle Alozie and Blessing Demehin are a booking away from suspension.
Head coach Randy Waldrum confirmed on Sunday that striker Desire Oparanozie is now ready to play after having recovered from an injury. Oparanozie is yet to feature in this tournament and Waldrum says “the game is going to dictate how we make our moves” on if or when she gets to feature.
WHAT THEY SAY
Lionesses coach Sarina Wiegman:
“Nigeria have done really well in this tournament, they were in a very hard group and we all saw that they did very well in that group.
“They are a very athletic team, quick and transitional (but) they also want to play (the ball around) We are aware of their strengths but what we are going to try to do is to explore their weaknesses,”
Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum:
“We’ve been preparing and training hard to get ready for this. There are so many different problems that they can cause us obviously with the strength of their team and the way they play.
“I’s just really been days of trying to break down videos and discuss things as a staff to figure out how we can exploit some things that we do well and at the same time contain them with other things that they do well
“I don’t sense a lot of difference between this match (against England) and any of the other three matches we played (in Group B). I’m sure they (England) have the same anxieties and I think it just feels that the deeper you go in this competition, the more anxieties, it’s normal. But the players have seen and handled that very well so far so I haven’t noticed anything that is of concern.”
Players of both sides are already $60,000 (about N45m) richer due to their qualification for this stage of the competition in accordance with the monetary incentives lined out by FIFA for players in this tournament.
Winners of the Round of 16 matches have the opportunity to increase their total earnings by 50% i.e players of the winning team will receive $90,000 each (about N68m) for reaching the quarter finals.
HOW TO WATCH
England vs Nigeria is the fifth Round of 16 game at this ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup being hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
The game will be broadcast LIVE on all FIFA right holding channels including SuperSport Variety 3, DStv Channel 208 in Nigeria and on GOTv.
For online subscribers especially in Nigeria, the game will be LIVE on AfroSport TV and you can watch here.
Winner of the England vs Nigeria game will face the winner between Colombia and Jamaica in Sydney on Saturday.
Fisayo Dairo, Chief Football Writer.