The 2015 Women’s World Cup sees the second round of matches in Group C and D play out tomorrow morning Australian time with Australia facing the already proven attacking might of Nigeria who held 5th ranked Sweden to a 3-3 draw last Monday.
The Australian’s will need the full complement of points from this match or things could get very dicey with less than three points when they go up against Sweden.
If Sweden as predicted lose to the USA and Australia either lose or draw to Nigeria that would leave them with a maximum of 1 point and an exit from the tournament would come down to goal difference between the two sides.
“Nigeria have shown they are a quality opponent…we all know it will be a tough game… we all knew it was the ‘group of death’ and it is probably even a better and tougher group than what we thought it was before,” said Australian Coach Alen Stajcic.
“Nigeria play electric and powerful up front, quick and dynamic, good touches on the ball, they back themselves and have scored some really good goals and the Sweden game was what I expected to be honest, having watched them since almost 2010,” he said.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala played at the last two U-20 World Cup competitions and won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot award at Canada 2014 and as she displayed against Sweden will be hard to contend with, but as Stajcic reminded the media, “we also have speed and tactical awareness at the back”.
Theoretically, the game against Nigeria will come down to, the discipline and ability of the Australian back-line to nullify the Nigerian attack and with their questionable defense, the ability of the Australian attack to keep composure and capitalise on their chances in the attacking third.
The coach of Nigeria, Edwin Okon has said that his team will win the game against Australia, but after a first match loss to the USA the Matildas know what is at stake and the Australian midfield will dictate play.
What is assured is that the Australians would have identified their errors from the second half of the match against the USA and will be less likely to allow the long uncontested attacking runs that were their downfall.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala and Desire Oparanozie are dangerous attackers, but you can expect Australia to hold more possession through Elise Kellond-Knight, Katrina Gorry and Emily van Egmond in the midfield and it will be a patient build up from the Australians.
Most of Nigeria's attack will come from direct attacks trying to capitalise on their speed and power, but Alanna Kennedy and Clare Polkinghorne will be up for the task.
By Paul Brown