Nigeria and Canada, two talented teams who have underperformed at recent tournaments, will face each other on Friday.
When: Friday, July 21
Where: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia
Kickoff: 12:30pm local time (02:30 GMT)
Canada and Nigeria will both look to make a mark on the tournament in a hotly anticipated clash between two perennial World Cup underperformers.
Canada are reigning Olympic champions while Nigeria’s Super Falcons are experiencing a slump in form; they failed to win any medal at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations despite having won 11 of the 13 prior editions.
‘This team is full of rock stars’: Sinclair
Veteran Canada skipper Christine Sinclair stressed on Thursday that The Maple Leafs can beat anyone at the Women’s World Cup, saying: “This team is full of rock stars.”
Sinclair, who will be participating in her sixth World Cup, warned against underestimating her side.
“We were overlooked heading into the Tokyo Olympics and showed what we can do,” said the 40-year-old forward, whose incredible 190 goals in 323 appearances for her country has made her the all-time leading scorer in international football.
“We can beat any team in the world,” she said. “It’s contagious (winning), you want to do it again and it’s just motivated us to prove to the world what we can do again.”
Canada have qualified for every World Cup except the inaugural edition in 1991, with a fourth-placed finish in 2003 as the highlight. They were knocked out in the round of 16 in France four years ago.
Nigeria head into clash in fine form
Nigeria head into the clash with a poor record against the North American team, having only won one of their four previous matchups.
However, they enter the tournament on the back of three straight victories, including a three-nil rout of co-hosts New Zealand.
The Super Falcons also made it to the World Cup quarter-finals in 1999, losing a closely contested game with Brazil 4-3.
The Nigerian squad is full of talent, especially with the attacking trident of Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala who has just won the Champions League, Saint-Étienne forward Esther Okoronkwo and Atlético Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade.
Canada team news
Chelsea midfielder Jessie Fleming is a doubt for the clash following concerns over her fitness.
Nigeria team news
Nigeria have no injury concerns.
Head to Head
The two teams have met on four occasions.
Canada have won two fixtures, and the latest match, a friendly held in April 2022, ended in a 2-2 draw. But Nigeria won their only World Cup matchup 1-0 at the 2011 edition.
Form and ranking
Canada sits at number 7 in FIFA’s world ranking, and Nigeria at number 40.
Players to watch
Asisat Oshoala has been nominated for the 2023 Ballon d’Or and won the African Women’s Player of the Year award four times. She is the undisputed star of the Super Falcons side.
Christine Sinclair, the all-time leading scorer in men’s or women’s international football with 190 goals, is the standout talent in The Maple Leaf’s team. — AlJazeera/NewsAgencies