The Super Falcons of Nigeria got their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign off to a positive start on Friday in Australia, earning a point from a 0-0 Group B draw against Canada in Melbourne. Strong defending from Nigeria and a penalty kick save from goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie early in the second half frustrated the favored Canadians in an exciting clash. Nigeria will face hosts Australia in their next match on July 27.
Canada, ranked seventh in the world, looked to assert themselves as Group B favorites and controlled play in the early stages. All-time leading scorer Christine Sinclair had the first opportunity when the 40-year-old collected a pass outside the Nigerian penalty area with plenty of space but sent her shot high and wide without testing Super Falcons keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.
The Nigerian team settled into the match and created a couple of opportunities before halftime with Ifeoma Onumonu’s 23rd minute effort pushed wide by Canada keeper Kailen Sheridan. Asisat Oshoala created chaos when Sheridan came out and failed to make a play on a pass over the top of the Canadian defense but Oshoala’s cross could not find a teammate.
It appeared that the breakthrough arrived for Canada early in the second half after a Video Assistant Referee review spotted a foul committed on Sinclair in the box by Francisca Ordega. However it was Nnadozie who became the hero of the match by diving for a superb save on the subsequent penalty kick from Sinclair.
A frantic end to the match saw opportunities for both teams but in the end courageous defending and Nnadozie’s performance gave the Super Falcons a valuable point. Deep into second half stoppage time VAR intervened to give a red card to Deborah Abiodun for a high challenge on Canada’s Ashley Lawrence.
Click the link below to watch highlights from the Group B clash.