Nine-time African champions, Super Falcons are confident of a better outing against Olympic Champions Canada when both teams square up in the second of their two-match bouquet in the North American country on Monday.
Two second goals by Jessie Fleming (50th minute) and Vanessa Gilles (72nd minute) earned the world’s sixth-ranked team victory over the African champions in their first encounter in Vancouver on Friday (Saturday morning in Nigeria). However, Coach Randy Waldrum prosecuted that game with only 14 outfield players, most of whom arrived on the eve of the match due to late issuance of visa from their respective bases.
They held on tenaciously in the first 45 minutes but fatigue and injuries saw goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, defender and skipper Onome Ebi and forward Uchenna Kanu stretchered off at different times during the game. Midfielder Rita Chikwelu also had to be substituted.
However, Nigeria would be able to offer greater tenacity in Monday night’s duel as injured players would have recovered, there would have been more training sessions for greater bonding and understanding, and there is the added impetus offered by the arrival of barnstorming forward Francisca Ordega in Canada on Sunday.
In the first match, Waldrum had started with goalkeeper Nnadozie, defenders Onome Ebi, Nicole Payne, Ashleigh Plumptre and Akudo Ogbonna, midfielders Rita Chikwelu, Toni Payne and Rasheedat Ajibade, and forwards Uchenna Kanu, Christy Ucheibe and Ifeanyi Onumonu.
Onumonu scored the two goals that took the fight out of Cote d’Ivoire’s Lady Elephants in the first leg of their Women AFCON 2022 final round fixture in Abuja on 18th February, and was quite active in the return leg in Abidjan, where Esther Okoronkwo’s late goal made it a 3-0 aggregate win for Nigeria.
Monday’s encounter will take place at the Starlight Stadium, and will commence at 7.30pm Canada time (3.30am Tuesday in Nigeria).
The two-match tour is part of the NFF’s general plan to prepare the Falcons adequately for the 12th Women Africa Cup of Nations finals taking place in Morocco 2nd – 23rd July this year, at which Africa’s four flag-bearers at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Australia/New Zealand will emerge.