At the present FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the Super Falcons of Nigeria fell to England 4-2 in a dramatic Round of 16 match on Monday.
The Super Falcons finished Group B in second place with five points, trailing only group-leader Australia and ahead of third- and fourth-placed Canada and the Republic of Ireland.
When they defeated the Matildas, who were rated 10th by FIFA, in front of the home crowd, it was one of the most memorable games in the competition thus far. Their inability to duplicate the feat against the 22nd-ranked Irish team condemned them to second place and set up a Round of 16 clash with England, which finished top of Group D with nine points.
It was a match between the fourth and 40th-ranked team according to FIFA, but the Falcons defied expectations and engaged the Lionesses head-on.
At Lang Park in Brisbane, Australia, the match between Africa’s top team and the European champions concluded in a 0-0 tie, with the Lionesses down to 10 players in the 85th minute.
However, over the additional 30 minutes of play, the game’s dynamics remained constant, resulting in a penalty shootout where the Falcons’ Desire Oparanozie and Michelle Alozie missed their spot-kicks.
The Super Falcons were eliminated from the competition after their loss to England and won’t play in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal. As a result, Randy Waldrum’s team will go back to Nigeria this week, and the players will return to their respective clubs soon after.
The Super Falcons will now focus on the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying after being eliminated from the World Cup. They will play Sao Tome and Principe in a two-leg match on September 18 and 26 of this year.
Audu Ojo, the head coach of Dawaki Rangers, said the following to INFOXCLUSIVE in his analysis of the Super Falcons’ loss to England: “I am sad that the Super Falcons did not qualify for the last eight of the World Cup. But at the same time, I am happy because they put in a tough fight against one of the teams that are favourites to win this competition.”
In the fiercely contested encounter, where the Nigerian team had the advantage of having one more player on the field of play for at least 35 minutes due to Lauren James of the Three Lionesses receiving a red card, he highlighted mistakes made by both the coach and the players.
According to him: “Super Falcons coach should have tried to bury the game immediately after Lauren James was given a red card.
“Some of the changes he made shouldn’t have been made. The likes of Ayinde, Payne and Kanu shouldn’t have been substituted. Yes, I give him credit for bringing in Oshoala to replace Onumonu because she was tired in the second half.”
He also pointed out the error in the penalty shootout: “Oparanozie had less than four touches when she came on.
“I expected her not to take a penalty alongside Alozie, who did exceptionally well but was tired towards the closing stage of the match when the coach changed her position by playing her on the left side of the attack line.”
Overall, he gave kudos to the Falcons, nonetheless, saying: “The girls did really well. Many people did not even expect them to qualify from the group that boasted the likes of Canada, a former Olympic champion, coupled with the speculations regarding their allowances and preparation, but they still performed well. They should keep their heads high despite the result against England. Penalty, as they say, is a lucky game.”
Ojo anticipates that the group will swiftly move past their disappointment and concentrate on turning things around in their upcoming endeavors.
“Now, they should come back home, return to the drawing board, and focus on their next outing [Women’s AFCON qualification] later this year,” he stated.
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